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Cheap Edition. Large Crown Svo. Cloth, 31. 6d. net. 


By Sidney Low, M.A. 

"A valuable contribution to the political and 
constitutional history of our time." — Daily Chronicle. 

"A very fresh and interesting book on a subject 
which is as a rule neither fresh nor interesting." — 













[All rights reserved.'] 


In this book I have presented an anthropologist's 
view of London history. History to be of value 
must concern itself with something definite, and the 
something definite on which it appears to me to 
have been worth writing is the position of London 
as an English institution. Anthropologists know 
that institutions of quite unequal development do 
not coalesce, and the difficulty in the way of a 
Romanised Britain has always been that both tribal 
Celt and tribal Teuton stood in the way. The 
book, I hope, shows this difficulty, which was a 
very real one to our ancestors, to be an historical 
episode of very considerable importance in the 
evolution of the English state. Whether I have 
successfully solved it is another question. Perhaps 
anthropologists may question my right to apply 
their science and their principles to so purely a 
historical subject, and may dispute my conclusions 
as unscientific from that point of view. Perhaps 
historians may question my right to discuss the 
solemn matters of history with any other material 
than that supplied by the palaeographer, the chronicler, 


or the diplomat. Perhaps, too, the lawyer may say 
harsh things about the manner in which legal 
decisions have been treated. 

I pray them to consider. Every law has its 
history. Every historical fact has its setting with 
crowds of other facts. All that I have attempted 
is to deal with the material at my disposal in this 
light, and if I fail I do not think it will be on 
the ground of method. 

I had looked forward during the years this book 
has been in course of preparation to discussing it, 
when in proof, with Professor Maitland and Miss 
Bateson. And even while my sheets were yet fresh 
with their printed names, they have passed away. 
Their loss is almost irreparable. Professor Maitland 
allowed me sometimes to speak to him of the subjects 
which interested us both ; Miss Bateson, just before 
her death, wrote to me on another subject, and I 
heard through a friend of her interest in my research. 
The pleasure I should feel at the completion of my 
task is shadowed by the thought that I shall not 
receive their illuminating and always kindly criticism. 

I must apologise for the tone of the book ; it 
is too didactic. This fault is not due to any feeling 
of satisfaction on my part with my own labours, 
but to the fact that originally my book was in the 
form of lectures, and without rewriting the whole 
I could not have changed the general standpoint. 


My time for studies of this sort is so limited that 
I could not face the alternative of rewriting the 
whole, and so my determination had to be either 
to sacrifice the whole study or to issue it as it was. 
I trust that, in spite of many defects, my readers 
will not judge that the former was my proper 

I have to thank Mr Graham Wallas for reading 
proofs, and for much valuable criticism. My old 
friend, Mr Fairman Ordish, has once more done 
me the inestimable service of reading my sheets and 
helping me over many a difficulty. I am also proud 
to add the name of my son, Allan Gomme, among 
those who have helped me considerably ; and of my 
son, Austin Gomme, who has worked at the maps 
for me. 


24 Dorset Square, 
March 1907. 
















IN BRITAIN 202-229 




LONDON 230-234 










LAW 358-368 

XI. DECLINE OF LONDON . . . . . . 369-395 



INDEX 413-418 



Among the local institutions of England London 
holds a unique position. There is no other city 
with quite the same right to be called a Celtic 
stronghold of importance ; there is no other city of 
Roman Britain which can claim so fully to have 
built up her later position upon the remains of her 
Roman constitution ; there is no other city which 
became to the Anglo-Saxon monarchy the chief centre 
of its military power at a time when this meant the 
existence of the Anglo-Saxon state itself; and there 
is no other city which stands out as the inheritor 
of all these forces in its struggle for freedom in 
mediaeval and later times. 1 Perhaps no other city 
is so gloriously placed for success as a city as London 
is, but be the causes what they may for the position 
it occupies as a city among local institutions, it is 
certain that while comparing faithfully enough in one 

1 I am aware that Mr Freeman makes a similar claim for Exeter in 
his English Towns and Districts, 53-54, and perhaps also for Lincoln ; 
but not only is the claim not made out for these cities, it is not compared 
with that for London. Bishop Stubbs states the claim for London quite 
clearly. {Constitutional History, iii. 568.) 



detail or another with other cities, it possesses within 
itself innumerable features of uncommon interest and 
importance which do not compare with other cities. 

It is worth while considering the place which 
London holds among the institutions of the country 
for many reasons. First, perhaps, because it is the 
capital city of the kingdom, but principally because 
of the interest of the subject in relation to the wider 
interests of national growth and development. The 
interest indeed is never entirely local. It is local 
only in its detail, and whether we are dealing with 
mediaeval London or Anglo-Saxon London, with 
Roman London or even with Celtic London, there 
crop up points of the greatest value to the student 
of institutions at all the various stages. 

This is not due to the work of its historians. 
Throughout the voluminous literature which has 
accumulated on London, there is nothing which 
tells us of London as an institution during the 
several stages of its history. A fact or a phase may 
be mentioned here and there in almost accidental 
fashion, but there is no guide to tell us of the con- 
sistent story which in point of fact lies at the back 
of the accumulated material. No one seems to have 
thought it worth while to turn from the archaeological 
remains to the interpretation of their meaning and 
significance, and no one has considered it of any 
importance to endeavour to get at the truth of things 
by approaching them from antecedent conditions, 
instead of from the views and ideas of later, if not 
of modern, times. There has been in fact no con- 
sistent and scientific attempt to trace out the English 


institution which is contained within the shell of 
London city, and English history, as well as the 
history of institutions in the western world, are the 
poorer from this neglect of a great subject. If I 
mistake not, the true method of enquiry is in the 
direction indicated by past neglect. One cannot 
come suddenly upon a given period and learn all it 
has to tell without first of all seeing what has gone 

It is not too much to say that the study of 
English local institutions can only be properly under- 
taken by first understanding the position of London. 
It is my purpose to make this attempt. I shall 
be using old material, but using it in a different 
fashion and for a different purpose from that which 
has hitherto been accomplished. In its new position 
much of this old material will itself appear somewhat 
new, for at present it lies either as accumulated heaps 
of archaeological dkbris, scarcely even sorted out into 
its proper periods, or as collections of facts which 
have yet to find their value and place. A fact as a 
fact is of minor importance until it has been placed 
in its proper relationship to the group of facts to 
which it belongs. No doubt it is impossible to deal 
with this mass of material thoroughly, and no doubt 
much of it must remain undocketed and unable to 
find its place in the reconstructed picture. Never- 
theless I think I can see sufficient connection between 
hitherto disconnected fragments for it to be worth 
while stating the case which appears to evolve from 
this new condition. 

The question as to how far it is possible to trace 


back the development of any given institution is 
of course dependent not only upon the amount of 
material to hand, but upon the manner in which 
it lends itself to investigation. London, with its 
Norman castle and other remains and its Normano- 
Latin name of Londoniae * in the significant plural 
form ; with its Saxon history and name London- 
byrig ; 2 with its Roman remains and name Lun- 
dinium ; 3 with its Celtic name Lindun 4 — suggests a 
scope for enquiry which demands a preliminary 
statement of the essential conditions. And we are 
led at once to a consideration of the relationship 
of primitive, politics to fully developed institutions. 
In England this is necessary, because one of the most 
important factors in the history of English institutions 
is the Roman occupation of Britain. At almost every 

1 The plural form is used throughout the Liber Custumarum, and the 
heading to William's first charter is " Charta Willelmi Bastard de liber- 
tatibus Londoniarum." Henry II.'s charter is to "Civibus meis Lon- 
doniarum." {Liber Cust. i. 25, 31.) Mr Wheatley brought the point 
forward in the Athenceum, 22nd January 1887, but no philologist has 
properly discussed it. See, however, Mr Round's note in his Geoffrey 
of Mandeville, 347. 

2 Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, anno. 457. 

3 Ammianus Marcellinus is the authority for the position of London 
as a Roman city. He says, " Lundinium vetus oppidum, quod posteritas 
augustam appellavit " (lib. 27, cap. 8). The first occurrence of the name 
of London on an Anglo-Saxon coin gives the spelling Lvndonia. {Num. 
Chron. 3rd ser. xx. 82.) 

4 Various as are the derivations given of the word London, I think 
that which most nearly meets the condition of things has been given by 
Dr Charnock. The Welsh Hi, signifying a flood, flux, stream, was 
liable to take the form of lag, lud, Ion, lun, lyn, etc., hence Londinium, 
Lundinium, Lyndin, or London was formed out of purely Celtic elements. 
It was not derived from its place on the Thames lagoon, but from its place 
on some smaller river, as, for instance, the Fleet, and the name London 
can mean none other than a fortress or settlement on the water. See 
also Isaac Taylor, Names and Their Histories, 176. 


point we are brought face to face with problems 
presented by the relationship of Roman influences 
to Celtic and Saxon influences — that is to say, the 
relationship of primitive politics to a highly organised 
polity. In an undeveloped country like Russia, for 
instance, this relationship is evident in several ways. 1 
But in England the question is more difficult for 
many reasons, and the difficulties have led to 
conclusions being drawn from the Roman occupation 
of Britain which are out of all proportion to the 

It is extremely important to make this clear, and 
I shall therefore have to make a somewhat extensive 
preliminary survey of the relation of the primitive 
politics of the tribal Britons to the state politics of 
the Roman government of Britain. Nothing can 
be attempted in the direct history of London as a 
local institution until this preliminary is settled — it 
is, in fact, the necessary preliminary to a study of 
English institutions just as the history of London is 
a necessary preliminary to the history of all other 
local institutions. That the Romans administered 
Britain when it was inhabited by a race of Celtic 
Britons who were in the tribal stage of political 
life ; that the Romans were themselves in an 
advanced stage of imperial politics ; that the English 
who conquered the Celtic tribesmen and the Roman 
cities were in the same tribal stage of political life 
as their Celtic opponents, are the factors in the 
case, and their definite relationship to each other, 

1 Professor Kovalevsky has discussed this point in his masterly 
treatise on Modem Customs and A?icient Laws of Russia. 


their influence upon each other and their final position 
are the facts we need to understand. Chronology 
alone does not help us here. Because the Roman 
was post - Celtic and the Saxon post - Roman, it 
does not follow either that the Roman borrowed 
anything from the Celt, or the Saxon from the 
Roman. People borrow from another people only 
what is capable of easy assimilation to their existing 
culture, and between the Roman and the Celt and 
the Roman and the Saxon there was a whole world 
of progress. 

There are certain fixed points in the history of 
London which have so direct a bearing upon this 
question that it is advisable to approach it through 
these channels, more particularly as they have 
been singularly neglected, if they have not been 
altogether over-looked, by all the authorities. They 
are : 

(i) London as a city of the Roman empire. 

(2) London under Anglo-Saxon rule. 

(3) The grant of the charters. 

The position of London in each of these periods 
is entirely different, and yet there is close connection 
between all. The differences do not tell for dis- 
continuity of London life ; the connection does not tell 
for continuity of any one form of constitution ; while 
the complexity of the problem thus produced has 
caused the facts to be invested with certain popular 
characteristics which are not their true characteristics. 

Under the first period it is essentially necessary 
to dismiss from the mind the idea that London was 
a city of Roman Britain. It was nothing of the 


kind. Roman London was a city of the empire, and 
Britain under the Roman dominion was nothing 
but a geographical expression. Politically, Britain 
was a part, or rather it constituted five parts (for it 
was finally divided into five provinces), of the Roman 
empire, and Lundinium was a Roman city, situated, 
as all Roman cities were, on a Roman road which 
connected it with Rome as the centre of the empire, 
deriving its power and its constitution, as all Roman 
cities did, from its external sovereign, the empire 
of Rome. Lundinium was no mere appropriation 
of a Celtic site for the purpose of continuing there 
a system of Romano-Celtic civilisation. It was the 
definite location of a Roman camp carefully selected 
for military purposes, and it grew to be a Roman 
city, developed by its unrivalled position for purposes 
of commerce. It was not created before the great 
roadway reached its site from the south. It took 
its place on the roadway no sooner than that great 
and primary undertaking had reached the Thames. 
All that Lundinium contains, therefore, by way of 
contribution to the full history of London, comes 
from Roman law and the Roman constitution, and 
we shall have to appeal to these sources, and these 
sources only, for whatever is to be learned from 
this part of its history. 

The second period is a more difficult matter. 
London constitutionally never appears in Anglo- 
Saxon history at all. It appears as a fortified 
centre created by the great Alfred as a bulwark 
against the invaders of his country and sovereignty. 
It crops up in one or two ways which show how 


accidental its position was. It asserts rights against 
Anglo-Saxon laws in a manner which compels the 
question as to whence these rights came. It appears 
to own no formal allegiance to an external sovereign 
power, and no Anglo - Saxon king granted it a 
constitution. No Anglo - Saxon king appears to 
have done more than appeal to it when turned at 
bay by his enemies, and to neglect it, or leave it 
alone, when not troubled by foes. It possessed in 
later times many traces of its ancient Roman con- 
stitution and many traces of Anglo - Saxon custom. 
While retaining many rights in a considerable 
stretch of territory beyond its boundaries, it separates 
itself strangely from this territory which assumed 
a distinct Anglo - Saxon character, and it allows 
independent settlements and governments right up 
to its very walls, but not within its walls. All this 
is conflicting, not homogeneous, testimony of its life 
in Anglo-Saxon times, and it needs above all things 
to be explained and accounted for. 

The third period at last brings us into the clear 
light of constitutional method. London as a chartered 
city has once more an external sovereign to whom 
it owes its constitution. But this brings with it the 
story of a fierce conflict with the monarchs who 
grant the charters — almost a fierce contest against 
the charters themselves, and it is accompanied by 
a continued exercise of rights which were un- 
sanctioned by the sovereign until the sovereign, 
apparently for his own protection as sovereign and 
not as an endowment of London, gradually 
encroached upon them and swept all the most 


important of them into his charters. But this 
again is at variance with the position of Anglo- 
Saxon London and of Roman Lundinium, and 
shows that Norman Londoniae must have received 
from Anglo-Saxon London strange and strong 
rights of independence which Anglo-Saxon London 
could only have built up out of its Roman pre- 

These are essential matters for consideration. 
They are new to this branch of constitutional 
history. No authority has touched upon them, no 
authority has collated them and decided that they 
needed investigation before we could begin to under- 
stand the position of London. It is clear that the 
charters did not begin London history, for there is 
so much at the back of the charters which explains 
so much that followed the charters. It is clear 
that Anglo - Saxon times did not begin London 
history, for there is an unmistakable appeal to some- 
thing that has gone before. It is clear that if 
Roman times saw the beginning of constitutional 
London, it did not see the end of it. What we have 
to do, therefore, is to try to find a way through this 
tangle of contradictions and conflicting testimonies, 
and a way which shall guide us to an explanation, 
of the greatest problem of all, namely, that London, 
although the capital city of the empire, was not 
the seat of the English Parliament and the centre 
of the English Government. It has at last, in these 
modern days, attained that position by the incorpora- 
tion of the ancient city in the larger county of 
London, which includes Westminster, the seat of 


Government. But even this has no constitutional 
significance, and London remains in this important 
respect the only capital city of the western world 
which is topographically separated from the seat of 
the state Government. The fact raises at least the 
presumption that there is something worth attention 
in so notable a distinction, and we shall find as we 
proceed that it contains the germ of the ancient 
antagonism between Roman London and the Anglo- 
Saxon tribal settlements around it. 

My method of elucidating the interesting problem 
thus raised, for problem it is, will not be chronological 
in the strictest sense, because behind the date when 
a certain event occurs, the date when a certain 
charter is granted, the date when a custom is 
observed, is something much more important. There 
is the date or the period, for it is not possible or 
necessary always to deal with actual dates, when 
the event, the charter or the custom actually 
originated. If I observe, for instance, that on the 
9th of November 1900 the Lord Mayor's procession 
took place, I am entitled to note that it took place 
on that particular date, in obedience, not to a 
sudden departure into a new line of operations, but 
in obedience to a long established rule, and I 
therefore take back the fact of a civic procession 
to the earliest date or period when it can be shown 
to have existed or originated, and I assume its 
continuance throughout all the intervening period, 
even if records fail me in proving such a continuance. 
Again, a charter of a given date may grant certain 
rights or privileges to the citizens, but the rights 


or privileges may not have originated with the 
charter — they may have been enjoyed by the citizens 
before the date of the charter, and have only become 
legalised, so to speak, by the charter. Where this is 
the case the date of the charter is only of secondary 
importance. The date or period of actual importance 
is that to which the rights or privileges really belong. 
And so with the observance of a custom. It may 
be noted by some chronicler at a given date, but 
this does not fix the date or period of the custom. 
It shows it had continued up to the date when it is 
recorded, but it does not go back to the date or 
period of origin. A custom is observed, because it 
is a custom, because the predecessors or ancestors 
of the late observers observed it, and we therefore 
take back the custom to the date or period when 
it first came into operation. What I shall be deal- 
ing with in all these matters is origins, not late 

These explanations are necessary, because I shall 
not follow chronology. Indeed, research into the 
history of institutions does not rest upon chronology 
so much as upon the evidence of certain stages of 
political development, and this evidence is drawn 
from a minute examination of origins, and from 
comparative custom. Before we can know anything 
about London's place among English institutions we 
must know something of the external conditions 
under which it came into existence, developed, and 
finally settled down, as we know it, and though a 
consideration of these external conditions will take 
us a little time it must be undertaken. 


It will be advisable, in the first place, to deal 
with the Roman constitution. We need to under- 
stand this, in its contradistinction to the Celtic and 
Teutonic institutions. When Rome came into con- 
tact with Celt and Teuton in Britain, it was on its 
way to full state development. The genius of 
Caesar had lifted it from the narrow limits of a city- 
state to the position of an empire, and it was 
Caesar who first brought Britain into touch with this 
empire. To understand the principle of the Roman 
empire, we must understand something of what the 
city-state was in ancient politics, for the develop- 
ment of Rome from the status of the city - state 
suggests that the principles of the city - state ran 
through all its parts, and would be likely again to 
reassert themselves when the controlling hand of 
empire was removed. We know that Britain was 
part of the decaying empire as well as of the con- 
trolling empire, and we must therefore be armed 
with the materials which will help us to understand 
the conditions of decay. 

The city-state was first developed by the Greeks, 
and between the Greek and Roman civilisations 
there was intimate relationship. Above all things 
it teaches us that the city life of the early western 
world was not a hateful necessity ; it was, on the 
contrary, an inspiring desire. It meant almost every- 
thing to the citizen. It began as an ideal, an ideal 
at once social and religious, and which always 


possessed a sustaining power of singular force and 
beauty. One cannot study the city life of the 
ancients without always being conscious of this ideal. 1 
To the Greeks the ttoXl? was the centre of all life 
and culture. It had a remarkable political and social 
influence, to which modern civilisation is almost an 
entire stranger, unless we can detect in the extra- 
ordinary development of the mediaeval Italian cities, 2 
and in the rapid growth of modern tendencies towards 
city life, the practical approach to what was ideal in 
ancient Greece. But between the modern tendencies 
and the early conditions there is a whole region of 
history — a region which is occupied by the ideals of 
Celtic and Teutonic life. We can only realise how 
different these ideals were from those of the ancient 
world, and then only to a limited extent, by an 
understanding of the principles of both, and we can 
best arrive at this by concentrating attention upon 
the different influences working upon one central 
example. It is from this point of view that the 
city-state of Greece and Rome becomes of import- 
ance to the proper consideration of the development 
of London as an English institution. 

There is, however, no necessity to enter into 
details of this vastly interesting institution. My 
purpose will be served if I briefly refer to the 
salient features of the most conspicuous examples. 
Sparta arose from the coalition of three separate 
communities whose villages were concentrated to 

1 The reader should consult Mr Fowler's excellent treatise on the 
City State of the Greeks and Romans, see pp. 8, 13, 14, 18, 116. 

2 Mr Hammond in his Political Institutions of the Ancient Greeksh.a.s 
an exceedingly valuable summary of this point (pp. 1-22). 


form the city. After this concentration the power 
of Sparta began to extend itself by degrees over 
the adjacent territory and to subdue the towns. 1 
But Sparta remained a city. It became a sovereign 
city with subordinate cities owing obedience to it ; 
it never became a nation where the whole people 
of the extended area took upon itself the form of a 
sovereign state. The city of Sparta was the state. 
In Attica the population dwelt originally in small 
communities, each independent of the rest in political 
life. Then certain large towns obtained sway over 
the smaller ones ; in other cases, towns more equal in 
size joined together in religious leagues. Athens itself 
was formed from three separate communities, the 
Ionian community on the Agra having compelled the 
others to combine with it and adopt the Acropolis Hill 
as the political centre of the new state. Athens, the 
city, became a sovereign city with dependencies and 
conquered territory, but the idea of a state did not 
develop beyond the city. 2 There was more chance 
of it at Athens than elsewhere in Greece, 3 but the 
genius of the people did not grasp it. And so it 
was in all the early stages of Greek political life. 
As Mr Freeman has expressed it: 

" The independence of each city was the one cardinal 
principle from which all Greek political life started. The 
State, the Commonwealth, was in Greek eyes a city, an 
organised body of men dwelling in a walled town as the 

1 Gilbert {Constitutional Antiquities of Greece, 9-14) gives all the 
necessary particulars. 

2 Gilbert, op. cit. 100-102. Miss Harrison's very valuable study of 
Primitive Athens should be particularly consulted. 

3 Hammond, Political Institutions of the Ancient Greeks, 62. 


hearth and home of the political society, and with a 
surrounding territory not too large to allow all its free 
inhabitants habitually to assemble within its walls to dis- 
charge the duties of citizens." 1 

We are thus prepared for the definition which 
Aristotle gives of the state — "such a number of 
persons qualified [as citizens] as is sufficient for an 
independent life" (iii. (1)). 

I can now turn to the evidence of Rome. Rome 
is above all political organisations of the utmost 
importance in matters of European history. " It was 
in Italy," says Mr Freeman, 

" that the idea of the city, the single independent city — the 
ruling city — was carried out on a scale in which it never was 
before or after. A group of Latin villages grew together to 
form a border fortress of Latium on the Etruscan march. 
That border fortress grew step by step to be the head of 
Latium, the head of Italy, the head of the Mediterranean 
world. The idea of the city — the ruling city — gathering 
around it the various classes of citizens, half-citizens, allies, 
and subjects, all looking to the local city as the common 
centre, whether of freedom to be exercised or dominion to 
be endured, all this finds its greatest and mightiest develop- 
ment in the Latin city of Rome." 2 

The seven hills upon which Rome was built are 
known to all students. They mark the original 
hill forts of separate communities, which ultimately 
coalesced to form the city. I need not for my 
present purpose relate the story pieced out so ably 
by Niebuhr and Mommsen from ancient legend, 
ancient history, and ancient monumental remains, 

1 Comparative Politics , 83. 

2 Ibid. 96-97. 


nor will I dwell upon what visitors to Rome at the 
present day can see for themselves. 1 

It was the city of Rome which subdued city 
after city in the Italian peninsula, until the whole of 
Italy was subjected to her sway ; it was the city of 
Rome which grew jealous of her rival at Carthage, 
and then looked for the first time for conquest 
beyond the bounds set by geography ; it was the 
city of Rome which held nearly all Europe at her 
feet, a great part of Asia and of North Africa ; it 
was to the city of Rome that Britain was a subject 
country. We do not now speak of the city of Rome, 
but of the kingdom of Italy in which Rome is 
situated ; there are now no Romans to the outside 
world but Italians, and this change in nomenclature 

1 The most important existing relics of the time when Roman history 
begins, though dimly, to take definite shape, are the so called " walls of 
Romulus." These were built round the circuit of the famous Roma 
Quadrata of the Palatine Hill. The chief remains of this wall exist at 
the western angle of the hill (near the modern entrance to the Palatine) ; 
all along the north-west side pieces of the wall remain embedded in the 
walls of the houses of the late Republican and early Imperial period, and 
at other places, thanks to Professor Middleton's discoveries and those 
of other explorers, traces are to be found. {Ancient Ro?ne in 1885, 
48-53.) Even the three gates are to be traced. {Ibid. 53-56.) These 
remains of the fortified hill-city of the Palatine community are, how- 
ever, of less interest to us than the remains of the great circuit wall, 
by which, in the words of Professor Middleton, a number of isolated 
towns or village forts on separate hills, originally occupied by independent 
communities, were linked together and formed into one large city by the 
fusion of several different races and tribes into a united people, under one 
king. {Ibid. 58.) The great wall is said to have been begun by Tarquinius 
Priscus and mostly built by Servius Tullius. It enclosed the seven hills 
of Rome, namely, the Palatine, the Capitoline, the Aventine, the Quirinal, 
the Caelian, the Esquiline and the Viminal, and many pieces of this 
wall still exist. The student will refer to Professor Lanciani's dis- 
coveries, and to the great work of the British school at Rome, for the 
detail of archaeological excavation and the conclusions drawn therefrom. 


betokens the change which has come over the spirit 
of political organisation. 

Let us then clearly understand what a sovereign 
city meant politically and economically. It meant 
that conquered territory from other cities or other 
countries became the territory of the citizens of the 
sovereign city. Thus at Sparta the greater part of 
the territory belonging to the conquered communities 
was taken from them and divided as the spoils of 
victory among the burgesses of the victorious city, 1 
while in Rome the sums poured at one time into the 
treasury from conquered people were so immense 
that it became unnecessary to demand any taxation of 
Romans for the purposes of the state. 2 These facts 
at once show that the city as a sovereign state stands 
in relationship to surrounding peoples and territories 
in a peculiarly significant position. It is not only the 
head, but the master ; there is no political community 
in which the city takes the first place, there is only 
the sharply divided line of the city boundary beyond 
which there is no community ; there is no stretch of 
territory to which the terms nation, country, and 
the like may apply, there is only the territorium of 
the city occupied, if occupied at all, by those who 
toil for the city ; there are no geographical bounds 
within which may gradually grow up a people with 
common interests and aspirations in which the city 
would be absorbed, there is only the extension by 
conquest of the area which owes obedience to the 

1 Gilbert, Co?istitutional Antiquities of G?'eece> jo. 

2 Arnold, Roman Provincial Administration, 9. 



These conditions due to the origin of Rome as 
a city - state tinctured all her subsequent history. 
When Caesar opened out the political aspect and 
placed the city-state at the head of an empire, the 
empire was not knit together by community of race, 
interests, or country, but by the sword, and so to 
the last, changed and extended as the Roman con- 
stitution became under the emperors, there was 
always underneath it all the early conception of the 

This conception reacted upon all its parts. There 
were subordinate city - states all over the Roman 
empire, and we shall see how this condition of 
things affected events with which we are particularly 
interested. In the meantime, I must give a few 
details which are necessary for the understanding of 
later facts. 

One of the first undertakings of Rome in a 
conquered land was to drive great military roads 
across the country from end to end. These magnifi- 
cent causeways raised considerably above the level 
of the ground, and with a deep ditch on each side 
of them from which the earth that formed them had 
been dug, were in themselves eminently defensible, 
and enabled troops to be massed on any given point 
with security and despatch. 1 

1 Arnold, Roman Provincial Administration, 16 ; Pearson notes that 
the roads in Britain were not so massive as those on the continent, 
History of England, i. 40. The Roman roads of Britain can still for the 
most part be traced, and they conform in every particular to the rules 
governing the construction of Roman roads in other parts of the empire. 
There are fifteen great road routes mentioned in the itinerary of Antoninus, 
and no less than eight of these fifteen roads converge upon London. 
Commencing on the east there is (1) the road to Colchester, Ipswich, 


On these great road systems the military and 
commercial centres were undoubtedly of the first 
importance. Fortress was connected with fortress 
in a fashion which made the hand of Rome upon 
a country appear to hold only the military organisa- 
tion. And this is in the main true. Development 
caused changes. Military protection produced of 
course some of the results of peace. Commercial 
prosperity would convert military fortresses into large 
town communities, and the organisation of these into 
cities of the Roman type followed necessarily. Then 
came the still further constitutional change in the 
formation of the province. But it has to be noted 
that the province did not displace the cities. When 
the Romans had to organise a province, they used 
the cities as their basis ; the towns were the adminis- 
trative means of raising the taxes, and each town 
comprehended a district of tributary lands, the names 
of which with their occupiers were kept by the 

and Norwich, with (2) a branch from Colchester to Thetford, Cambridge, 
Lincoln, and York ; (3) the road to Verulam, Wroxeter, Chester, York, 
Carlisle ; with (4) the road from Verulam to Leicester and Lincoln ; 
(5) the western road to Silchester and Bristol, with (6) the branch from 
Newbury to Gloucester, Hereford, and Shrewsbury ; (7) the south- 
western road through Guildford to Southampton ; (8) the south-eastern 
road to Rochester, Canterbury, Richborough, and Dover. The itinerary 
does not describe all the roads constructed by the Romans, but only the 
principal routes used primarily for military purposes ; and though there 
is much doubt about the site of some of the stations and about the 
route of portions of the roads, there is no doubt about the site of London, 
nor that its position on the road-system of Roman Britain made it a 
sort of Clapham Junction of the time. There is no adequate study of 
the Roman roads of Britain, though the subject is so tempting a one for 
the archaeologist and historian. Two small books have recently been 
written, which may be consulted for the general conditions, namely, 
Mr T. Codrington's Roma?i Roads in Britain (S.P.C.K.), 1903, and 
Forbes and Burmester's Our Roman Highways (1904). 


town magistrates, and it was at the cities that justice 
was administered. 1 

The development of the city system must in the 
majority of cases have been gradual. The most 
natural way in which a town grew up of itself in a 
Roman province was from the surroundings of a 
military camp or from the camp itself. 2 The town 
might become a colonia or a municipium. A colony 
was used for three different purposes — as a fortified 
outpost in a conquered country, as a means of 
providing for the poor of Rome, and as a settle- 
ment for veterans who had served their time. 3 
Caesar settled 80,000 citizens in different colonies out 
of Italy, and Augustus in some cases expelled the 
existing inhabitants, and thus founded entirely new 
towns. Thus the colony became very important ; the 
idea was that it was another Rome transferred to 
the soil of another country, and even in the form 
and aspect of the place Rome was imitated, and the 
Roman law with all its formal usages was transferred 
unchanged to the provinces. 4 Some of the towns 
were known as municipia, but it is difficult to 
understand what distinction is implied by this term. 
In regard to their internal arrangements and consti- 
tution what is true of a colony is true of a municipium. 
The historical difference between the two is that 

1 Arnold, op. cit. 201. I think Mr Coote's learned description of the 
process of colonisation, wherein the territorium and the city are both 
represented, is the best account for details. {Romans of Britain, 42-119.) 

2 Arnold, op. cit. 206. 

3 Ibid. 218. 

4 Ibid. 220, and see Coote's Romans of Britain, 132-133. The 
words of Gellius (xvi. 13) are very decisive on this point — "effigies 
parvse simulacraque populi Romani." 


which is made by Aulus Gellius, namely, that the 
municipia were taken into the Roman state from 
without, while the colonies were off - shoots from 
within. 1 

That Britain under the Romans was municipalised 
— in other words, was governed upon the principle of 
the city with its territorium, is certain. There were 
more than fifty of these cities — civitates, municipia, 
coloniae — when the Romans left Britain, 2 and Mr 
Coote has collected from various scattered sources 
the evidence which proves them to have been con- 
stituted upon the accepted lines of Roman Govern- 
ment. 3 

The provincial system, on the other hand, was 
not a gradual development. It was the formal act 
of the emperor. Britain was divided into four 
provinces — Britannia prima, Britannia secunda, Maxima 
Csesariensis and Flavia Csesariensis. 4 The Emperor 

1 Arnold, op. cit. 221. 

2 The number is variously stated. Mr Coote quotes fifty-nine from an 
authority speaking for A.D. 250, Marcianus Heracleota, see Romans 
of Britain, 344. Of these cities London was undoubtedly the greatest. 
The British historian, Nennius, has left a list of thirty-three cities, and 
from other sources a few more may be added. Altogether, of the 
known cities left by the Romans in Britain to continue the political 
life of that territory, we may be fairly sure of London, Bristol, Canterbury, 
Colchester, Cirencester, Chichester, Gloucester, Worcester, Wroxeter, 
York, Silchester, Lincoln, Leicester, Doncaster, Carmarthen, Carnarvon, 
Winchester, Porchester, Grantchester, Norwich, Carlisle, Chester, 
Caerleon on Usk, Manchester, Dorchester, Sandwich, Dover, Rochester, 
Nottingham, Exeter, Bath, Bedford, Aylesbury, and St Albans. (Kemble, 
Saxons in England, ii. 269.) I examine the Nennius list a little more 
closely in chapter iv. 

3 Romans of Britain, 346-347. Mommsen {Provinces of the Roman 
Empire, i. 193) considers that the great urban centres were more weakly 
developed in Britain than elsewhere. 

4 Mr Pearson's Historical Maps of England should be consul! ed as 


Diocletian subdivided the older provinces of the empire, 
making them much smaller and more numerous, and 
establishing a new official, the Vicarius, between the 
Caesars and the provincial Governors. Thus the whole 
empire was divided into twelve dioceses, the smallest 
of which was Britain. These dioceses were subdivided 
into provinces of which there were one hundred and 
one in all, and of which Britain supplied four. These 
provinces stood in political relationship to Rome, not 
to Britain. 1 Apparently the great rivers determined 
their boundary line, and the country was thus divided 
by north and south. 2 But north and south are not 
the natural divisions. East and west were the 
divisions of both tribal Celts and tribal Saxons, who 
followed more or less the geographical conditions of 
the country. In this significant difference we get 
a most interesting indication of what will appear 
more and more as we proceed, namely, that the 
Roman system, even in the provincial govern- 
ment, was guided by no influences except those 
dependent upon Roman needs and circumstances, 
and that Roman needs and circumstances were 

to the position of these provinces. Britannia prima was the district 
south of the Thames ; Flavia Caesariensis was that between the Severn 
and the sea ; Britannia secunda was west of the Severn, comprising 
Wales and the Welsh marches ; Maxima Caesariensis was between the 
Humber and the Tyne. (Pearson, History of England, i. 40.) 

1 Mr E. G. Hardy has a most instructive study of " provincial concilia 
from Augustus to Diocletian," in English Historical Rev. v. 221-254, 
which helps me in some of my difficulties. He considers them to have 
been "primarily of a religious rather than a political character" 
intimately associated with Caesar worship, which forms so marked 
a feature of the first three centuries. 

2 Professor Rhys {Celtic Britain, 97-101) should be consulted on this 


absolutely different from those of the Celts and 

In what exact relationship the provincial system 
stood to the city system is not quite clear, but 
what is of importance to the present enquiry is that 
the city system was the real foundation of the 
Roman Government. Rome held Britain through 
the established civitates, municipia and colonise, and 
these several grades of cities held by their territoria 
the whole country of Britain. 1 Rome, therefore, 
never settled upon the country. She fixed, so to 
speak, a series of pillars at various places in the 
country, and upon these pillars she rested her system 
of government. She never descended from the 
heights of the pillars to the level ground at their 
base. At the bases of the pillars radiated the lines 
which held the country, but these were military, 
not national lines. They led from city to fortress, 
from fortress to city, and did little for the country 
beyond allowing the erection of country villas for the 
great Roman officials. Rome never knew the forces 
which lay dormant at her feet in the untouched 
national sentiment of the conquered Celts. 

Britain under the Romans, therefore, was not a 
state. It was but a part of the Roman empire, 
governed by Roman officials and by Roman laws and 
usages. 2 This fact introduces us to a very important 
condition of the Roman occupation of these islands. 

1 I do not quite follow Mr Haverfield's argument in his British 
Academy paper on the Romanisation of Roman Britain as to the 
limited extent of the ager attributus of the towns in Britain (p. 20). 

2 Gildas understood this point, "ita ut non Britannia sed Romania 
censeretur," p. 20, of Mr Williams' edition. 


The cities of Britain were not politically connected 
with Britain but with Rome. More particularly is 
this the case with London. London, the city, and 
Britain, the country, had little or no political relation- 
ship except what was inevitably due to geography, 
for all the influences which were at work helped to 
keep them apart and not to bring them together. 
London's rapid development to the attainment of 
the proud name of Lundinium Augusta tended to 
make it more and more dependent upon Rome, and 
consequently independent of Britain. Britain's island 
position tended to make it more and more independent 
of Rome, and there are many passages in classical 
historians and poets which show that Britain was 
considered by reason of its insular position, as a sort 
of independent world. 1 Thus we have two forces at 
work against the fusing of the Roman cities in 
Britain with a British state. 

The fact is, that the Roman civilisation in Britain 
was, as the British civilisation in India now is, 
centuries in advance of the people then brought 
into contact with it. All that the Romans had gone 
through in order to arrive at their political systems 
was missing from the experience of the Britons. 
And the Britons could not, therefore, assimilate 
such a system into their own undeveloped life. How 
impossible it is to conceive the complete assimilation 
of British tribes and chieftains with Roman cities and 
governors may be illustrated best from the records 
of Rome herself. There are no touches of the un- 

1 Freeman, Comparative Politics, 351 ; Norman Conquest, i. 556, 
gathers the references together. 


bending of Rome to native British ways, such as 
there are of the unbending of Britain to native Indian 
ways ; there is not the name of a single British prince 
or British chief of any grade appearing among the 
rolls of Roman official life. "We seek in vain," as 
Mr Kemble has said, 

"for any evidence of the Romanised Britons having been 
employed in any offices of trust or dignity or permitted to 
share in the really valuable results of civilisation ; there is 
no one Briton recorded of whom we can confidently assert 
that he held any position of dignity and power under the 
imperial rule ; the historians, the geographers, nay, even the 
novelists are here consulted in vain ; nor in the many 
inscriptions which we possess relating to Britain can we 
point out one single British name." 1 

On the contrary, " levies, corn, tribute, mortgages, 
slaves " 2 are the ominous heads under which Britain 
appears in the vast ledger of the empire. When 
Tacitus tersely observes that " Ostorius Scapula 
reduced the hither Britons to the form of a province " 
{Agric. xiv.), the sentence conveyed all that was 
necessary to tell the Romans what institutions existed 
in Britain, while, alike to us moderns and to the 

1 Saxons in England, ii. 280. I am not convinced to the contrary by 
Mommsen's account of the evidence afforded by Roman villas and by the 
scholastic training of the British youth {Provinces of the Ro?nan Empire, 
i. 194), nor does Mr Haverfield's argument in his valuable paper before the 
British Academy convince me that Roman civilisation penetrated beyond 
Roman centres. All that Mr Haverfield proves seems to me to be 
that in Roman Silchester and other Roman cities there was complete 
Roman civilisation. But this is what might be expected. 

2 Thus the panegyric upon Constantius, A.D. 296, alludes to Britain 
as "valuable for its contributions to the treasury," Eumenius (cap. vii.) 
— tot vectigalibus quaestuosa. Giles {History of Ancient Britons, ii. 133) 
contains the excerpts. 


Britons, who were thus governed, the sentence conveys 
no meaning, nor can we arrive at the meaning without 
research into the methods of Roman Government. 1 
What the meaning was to a Roman may perhaps be 
gathered from the words of a Roman poet, Statius, 
who puts into the mouth of " an aged inhabitant of the 
savage land " (trucis terrcz) an address to the son of a 
certain Vettius Bolanus, who governed Britain during 
the wars which preceded the reign of Vespasian, in 
the following words : 

" Here your father sat in judgment and on that bank he 
stood and addressed his troops. Those watch - towers and 
distant forts are his, and these walls were built and entrenched 
by him. This trophy of arms he offered to the gods of war, 
with the inscription that you still may see ; that cuirass he 
donned at the call to arms ; this corslet he tore from the 
body of a British king." 2 

Do we not hear the ring of the Roman voice in 
these poet- words ? Do we not see the proud bear- 
ing of the son of Vettius Bolanus ? Do we not 
recognise the contemptuous position of the dead 
British king? It was always so. The Roman 
youth listening to these words probably stood in the 
basilica or in the forum of some Roman town in 
Britain — amidst all the signs of Roman occupation 
and greatness ; the British were stamped out and 
their chiefs or kings were killed or outlawed — they 
were to him aliens. 

So much stress has been laid upon the results 
of the Romanisation of Britain in producing a sort 

1 See Kemble, op. cit. ii. 278. 

2 Statius, Silv. v. 2, 142. 


of Romanised Briton as the basis of its population, 
that it is necessary to extend research at this point 
into special branches. It is essential that we should 
see that the Romanisation of Britain does not follow 
from the Romanisation of the Roman cities in Britain. 
Most authorities have, I venture to think, mistaken 
the matter because they have not understood the 
evidence from the two perfectly distinct standpoints it 
naturally presents, namely, the Roman and the British. 
These can never have been amalgamated into Romano- 
British, for they were not fusible. Some few of the 
British chiefs, perhaps some of the sub-chiefs and 
even some of the tribesmen, no doubt, adopted Roman 
ways, profited by the Roman arts and culture, and 
became, if not Roman citizens by law, at all events 
Roman citizens by adoption and choice. But that 
this result upon individuals implies a British advance 
from a tribal to an imperial political system is 
absolutely negatived by the facts. There are two 
distinct sources of political life in Britain. We must 
turn to Rome herself to know what Britain was as 
a part of the Roman empire just as we shall have 
to turn to Celtic evidences to know what the Britons 
were during and after the Roman occupation, and 
we shall find that the Britons were just as much 
tribesmen after the Roman occupation had ceased as 
they were before it began. 

Fortunately for the first part of this comparative 
study, we may turn to one or two of the significant 
features of Roman law which in the main belong to 
municipal history. 

We see this first in the law of marriage. The 


jural capacity of a Roman citizen was not unlimited. 
He was not legally free to do what he liked in all 
directions, and the restrictions, while they kept him 
attached to Rome, correspondingly weakened his 
position towards the provinces of the empire. 1 The 
jus conubii or right of marriage was a restricted 
right. Originally it did not exist between males and 
females of different cities unless by special agreement 
between those cities. 2 No Roman was free to marry 
whomsoever he would, and in particular a person in 
the service of the Roman state who resided in a 
province could not, so long as that service continued, 
conclude a marriage there, though after his service 
was ended he could obtain the right of marriage 
with an alien. 3 When we consider that this right 
was the later extension of the earlier laws, by which 
originally both patricians and plebeians married only 
amongst their own class, and freedmen were prohibited 
from marrying the freeborn, we are able to estimate 
its force. The first restriction removed was by the 
lex Canuleia (A.U.C. 309), whereby conubium was 
authorised between patricians and plebeians ; by the 
lex Julia (A.U.C. 757), between freedmen and free- 
born ; and by Justinian, who removed all restrictions 
from senators. Of course these stages in the law of 
marriage run parallel to the development of Roman 
law generally from the jus civile to the jus gentium, of 
Roman citizenship in the old form to the citizenship of 
a world-wide empire, but the restrictions which were 

1 Cf. Sohm's Institutes of Roman Law, 181. 

2 Ortolan, Roman Law, 79. 

a Gaius, 57 ; Savigny, Jural Relations, 31. 


thus removed as between the Roman citizen and the 
alien (peregrinus) were met by the new restrictions 
imposed from the other side, those, namely, of the 
barbaric peoples, who fastened upon the Roman 
empire for their future countries. At all stages, 
therefore, the law of marriage in the Roman provinces 
presented a set of rules which would keep not only the 
cities but it might be the governing classes in the 
cities, 1 as an exclusive caste, the entrance into which 
was barred by all the forces which tell most strongly 
against the building up of a common nationality. A 
Roman citizen in Britain was more completely 
separated from the Briton than an English citizen 
is from the native races he rules. In the latter case 
custom only is the separating force ; in the former 
both law and custom operated. And just when 
Roman law was breaking through this barrier, the leges 
barbarorum of the new conquerors set up another. 
No one can study the remains of early Celtic law 
preserved in Britain without being impressed by the 
fact that it occupied in pre-Teutonic times the 
same position which the leges barbarorum occupied 
later. When the Roman was prepared to interpret 
his jus civile by the light of his jus gentium the 
British Celt was not ready to follow. And if ever 
any portion of the Celtic peoples in Britain attained to 
that degree of culture, it was of no avail, because then 
they had to meet the Saxon rules which were set up 

1 Gaius, 96, preserves the law by which the magistrates might 
acquire the Roman franchise along with their wives and children 
(majus latium, see Niebuhr, History of Rome, ii. 80), or whereby the 
magistrates themselves might acquire the Roman franchise, but not their 
wives and children (minus latium). 


in contradistinction to the Roman code. It is difficult 
to state all the forces which operate or tend to operate 
against the assimilation of conquered with conqueror, 
but if among these forces there is discovered a 
different jus conubii, whether in full vigour or in 
process of development or decay, this will assuredly 
occupy the dominant place. 

There was, too, a whole body of merchant law. 
Laws do not concern themselves with merchants 
and merchandise until civilisation has advanced to the 
stage of empire, and then it becomes necessary to 
define what merchants may do and may not do. 
This was always the province of the Roman law, 
and neither the laws of the Celts of Wales or of 
Ireland contain anything of moment under this head. 
Nor do the laws of the Saxons. So marked is this 
important fact that our latest historians of the English 
law tell us that 

" before the end of the thirteenth century the law merchant 
was already conceived as a body of rules which stood apart 
from the common law. It would consist of what would 
now be called rules of evidence, rules about the proof to 
be given of sales and other contracts, rules as to the legal 
value of the tally and the earnest money. These special 
mercantile rules were conceived as being specially known 
to merchants ; in the courts of fairs and markets the assembled 
merchants declared the law. Also these rules are not con- 
ceived to be purely English law ; they are, we may say, 
a jus gentium known to merchants throughout Christendom, 
and could we now recover them we might find some which 
had their origin on the coasts of the Mediterranean," l 

1 Pollock and Maitland, History of English Law, i. 450. Cf. Spence, 
Equitable Jurisdiction of the Court of Chancery, i. 247. 


that is, of course, Rome. It will readily occur to 
most students who know anything of the multifarious 
transactions of commerce, how important it was to 
possess a code of rules which would allow the 
Londoner of Roman Britain to trade safely not only 
with the citizens of York, Winchester, Colchester, 
or other Roman city of Britain, but with the 
continental cities of the empire and with imperial 
Rome herself. And such a code was a legacy left 
to the cities from Rome. The jus commercii was 
one of the privileges of a Roman colony. It enabled 
two cities to make special arrangements whereby 
the inhabitants of the one could legally convey any 
property to those of another, or make binding arrange- 
ments with them. 1 In no other way could commerce 
between two cities be carried on. We shall see 
later on what important results this Roman law had 
upon the cities of Britain when the sanction of Roman 
sovereignty had ceased to operate, but it is also 
important to note its characteristically restricted 
nature. The jus commercii of Roman law is almost 
of the nature of a restriction of natural rights ; it 
is, at all events, a city law and not a national law. 
It is not a law generally applicable to a whole country 
or to the whole empire, but a law permitted to certain 
cities. It tends to emphasize in a special degree 
the independence of each city in relation to all other 
cities ; it tends to throw upon the city a responsibility 
for action in connection with the peoples of the sur- 
rounding country, which certainly does not lie in 
the direction of assimilation and amalgamation. 

1 Ortolan, Roman Law, 79. 


Let us consider how merchant law extended into 
post Roman times. It first of all ensured peace on 
the great highways of commerce, and nothing is more 
remarkable in the early history of English law than 
the growth of the conception of the king's peace upon 
the great highways — the Roman roads, in point of fact. 1 
At a time when Anglo-Saxon kingship did not extend 
beyond the narrow limits of a petty kingdom, the 
king's highways, as the Roman roads had come 
to be called, were declared to be under the special 
protection of the king. This was Roman merchant 
law, adapted to the uses of the Anglo-Saxon state, 
when once the Anglo-Saxon state had passed from 
tribalism. Secondly, there is a well-known Anglo- 
Saxon law of uncertain date which declares that any 
merchant "who fared thrice over the wide sea in 
his own vessel " shall have the rank of a thane. 2 
This law is an exact copy of a Roman law passed 
by the Emperor Claudius. 3 Thirdly, there is the 
well-known trinoda necessitas — the service imposed 
upon all territorial holdings, for the purpose of the 
upkeep of roads, bridges, and for military defence — 
an absolutely certain relic of the old Roman merchant 
law, 4 for bridges were first made by the Romans and 
were necessary to the continuity of the Roman roads, 
and military defence was one of the first duties of 

1 Sir Frederick Pollock's lecture on the King's Peace in Oxford 
Lectures, 80-83, should be consulted hereon. 

2 Ancient Laws and Institutes of England, Thorpe, fol. edit. 81, § 6. 

3 Coote, Romans of Britain, 374. 

4 Bishop Stubbs states his objections to this view in a note, see 
Constitutional History, i. 76. Mr H. C. Coote's cogent and learned argu- 
ment in its favour is to be found in his Romans of Britain, 260-261. 


Roman cities. Now the point is that these extensions 
of Roman merchant law occur in the Anglo-Saxon 
states, not among the Celtic Britons. Nowhere in 
Celtic law do we find a conscious adaptation of Roman 
law at first hand. It occurs in later times through the 
agency of the Church, but not in earlier times through 
the agency of the cities, and the conclusion is 
irresistible that the Celts of Roman Britain did not 
govern themselves on Roman principles, did not, 
therefore, adapt themselves to Roman life. 

There was more than all this and all that it 
implies in culture. There was the municipal con- 
stitution. Now a corporation consists of a number 
of individuals united by public authority in such a 
manner that they and their successors constitute 
one person in law. We are so familiar with this 
institution that it is not easy to understand that it 
is only the conception of an advanced civilisation. 
A collection or group of individuals may act together 
for many purposes on agreed lines ; but they cannot 
be treated by the rest of the community as one person 
unless the rest of the community, by means of some 
sovereign authority resting in that community, agreed 
to endow them with the peculiar position of a legal 
person, agreed to consider them as one, even though, 
as a matter of fact, they were many. Among the 
Romans every corporation was constituted by a 
specific law, by a decree of the senate, or by 
an imperial constitution. 1 These corporations are 
generally authorised to hold property ; to sue and be 
sued in the corporate name ; to choose office-bearers 

1 Ortolan, Roman Law, 606. 


to manage the business of the body ; to elect new 
members from time to time ; and to make by-laws for 
the administration of their own affairs, while there 
must always be some person authorised to represent 
the corporation in its external relation' 1 All this 
meant corporate action, meant a voting by majority 
to settle what both majority and minority were to do, 
meant the sinking of the individual in the group. 

It is impossible to overestimate the importance of 
this conception of corporate life — the some one to 
represent a whole city in its external relations is sure 
to grow into a some one of importance, the city so 
represented is sure to act and get into the way of 
acting in a definite continuous fashion with a policy 
in view. Every Roman city might be called upon 
by the Imperial city of Rome to defend its action 
at any time ; and when it had no longer to do this 
before a definite political superior such as Rome was, 
it would have learnt how to do it before any other 
external force which presented itself in opposition. 
A city organised upon the Roman legal system would 
not necessarily break up into atoms at the touch of 
opposition from without. With a corporate constitu- 
tion derived from Roman law it would know how 
to deal with all outside actions, and the very strength 
which it possessed in relation to external enemies 
would consolidate and organise its strength for 
internal affairs. Moreover, it was accustomed, as we 
have already seen, to make agreements for commercial 

1 Mackenzie, Roman Law, 155. Of course Mr Coote argues that there 
is evidence of all the Roman cities being corporations in Anglo-Saxon 
times {Romans of Britain, 375), but see Merewether and Stephens {History 
of Boroughs, passim.) against this view, 


purposes and for marriage purposes with other cities. 
The cities which Rome left in Britain when it was 
cut off from the empire were indeed political units 
of immense importance, far in advance of the native 
British institutions. They lost the headship of Rome 
and they substituted in its place independent head- 
ships of their own. With all the essentials of 
corporate existence in actual working order, the 
break-up of the external sovereignty from which 
these essentials were originally derived, would not 
weaken but, on the contrary, would, under certain 
circumstances, strengthen the corporate government. 
The natural development would be towards independ- 
ence and the amount of independence would be 
governed by the course of political events in the 
country dominated by the cities. Circumstances 
favourable to a natural development in the case of 
London failed in other cases. The important 
thing is to note how the line of natural development 
was twisted or deflected by the action of political 
events. Coming into existence as the outcome of 
advanced Roman politics corporate government was 
strong enough to survive the vortex of the Romano- 
Celtic struggle and the Anglo-Saxon conquest, and 
thus to appear as one of the anomalies of Norman 
England. Between the external sovereign from 
whom the municipal constitution was first derived, 
namely, the Roman empire, and the external 
sovereign who forced his sanction upon the pre- 
scriptive municipal constitutions, namely, the Planta- 
genet king, Edward III, there is the lapse of many 
centuries. It is during these centuries that the 


natural development of municipal government took 
place, and it is here that we shall find evidence, 
if it is to be found at all, of the place it occupies 
in English institutions. And if it is to be found at 
all it will be at London. Exeter comes near it ; 
York may contain traces ; there may be fragments 
elsewhere, surviving, however, in isolation and decay, 
not in vigorous growth. In London only is there 
evidence, not only of survival but of continuity, not 
only of the thing surviving, but of its effect upon 
the constitutional life of London. 


In this brief summary of the Roman constitution 
and its relationship to the history of Britain it has 
been necessary to use terms of advanced political 
meaning — city, state, corporation, merchant law, 
imperial government, all of which belong as much 
to modern politics as to Roman. We can use no 
such terms in describing the institutions of the Celt 
or the Saxon. How impossible it is to do so will 
be seen later on ; that it is necessary to use them 
in describing the institutions of the Romans illustrates 
at once the wide divergence between the two systems. 
This wide divergence is a matter of supreme import- 
ance. That it is not at present recognised is the 
cause of much indefinite research and not a little 
error, and even so good an authority as Mr Haver- 
field does not escape this difficulty. He sees clearly 
enough that Roman organisation and tribal organisa- 
tion existed side by side in Britain. He fails to see 


that they are essentially antagonistic, and hence he 
tries to find points of assimilation where they cannot 
be. 1 I shall proceed now to examine the tribal system 
so far as it is necessary for the subject in hand. 

The constitutional system of the Celts was tribal, 
and it is known to us almost as much from its 
historical survival as from its ancient records. In 
each of the three portions of our country where the 
Celtic peoples have remained in force — in Ireland, in 
Wales and in Scotland — evidence of the tribal system 
is forthcoming, and this evidence is aided by the 
researches of specialists, such as Sir Henry Maine, 
Mr Frederic Seebohm, and Dr Skene. It is not 
necessary for my purpose, of course, to go into all 
the intricate details of the tribal system. The 
structure and its main supports are all that is needed, 
and I shall draw my account of these from each of 
the three centres of Celtic life, without being careful 
to specify what is peculiar to each. Nor is this 
necessary, for in all essentials the tribal system of 
Ireland is repeated in Scotland and Wales. 

I think the summary which Sir Henry Maine made 
in 1875 of the Irish tribe is still the best that exists : 

" The first instructive fact which strikes us on the thres- 
hold of the Brehon law, is that the same word ' fine ' is applied 
to all the subdivisions of Irish society. It is used for the 
tribe in its largest extension, and for all intermediate bodies 
down to the family, as we understand it, and even for portions 
of the family. 2 It seems certain that each of the various 
groups into whichjancient Celtic society was divided conceived 

1 I refer to Mr Haverfield's very valuable paper on the Romanisation 
of Britain, published by the British Academy. 

2 See O'Curry, Manners and Customs of the Ancient Irish, clxii. 


itself as descended from some one common ancestor from 
whom the name or one of the names of the entire body of 
kinsmen was derived. . . . The tribe has long been settled upon 
the tribal territory. It is of sufficient size and importance 
to constitute a political unit, and possibly at its apex is one 
of the numerous chieftains whom the Irish records call kings. 
The primary assumption is that the whole of the tribal 
territory belongs to the whole of the tribe, but in fact large 
portions of it have been permanently appropriated to minor 
bodies of tribesmen. A part is allotted, in a special way, 
to the chief as appurtenant to his office, and descends from 
chief to chief according to a special rule of succession. 
Other portions are occupied by fragments of the tribe, some 
of which are under minor chiefs or flaiths, while others, 
though not strictly ruled by a chief, have somebody of a 
noble class to act as their representative. All the unappropri- 
ated tribe-lands are, in a more especial way, the property of 
the tribe as a whole, and no portion can theoretically be 
subjected to more than a temporary occupation. Much of 
the common tribe-land is not occupied at all, but constitutes, 
to use the English expression, the waste of the tribe. Still 
this waste is constantly brought under tillage or permanent 
pasture by settlements of tribesmen, and upon it cultivators 
of servile status are permitted to squat, particularly towards 
the border. . . . And there are no signs, as yet, even of 
the beginnings of great towns and cities." * 

I will extend this summary in one or two 
directions where evidence will be required later on. 
First of all, the tribe of the Brehon law tracts is 
a corporate, organic, self-sustaining unit — " the tribe 
sustains itself." 2 I should like to add, in anticipa- 
tion of some later points, that this is a natural 
corporation — a corporation formed of kindred, bound 

1 Early History of Institutions •, 90, 92, 93, 96. "The Celtic Irish 
never formed town communities," Ancient Laws of Ireland^ iv. p. xiv. 

2 Ancient Laws of Ireland^ ii. 283 ; Maine, op. cit. 107. 


together not only by ties of blood but by religious, 
political, and economical ties of the closest character. 
It was formed from within, and not by the machinery 
of an external sovereignty, which for purposes of 
government permitted a group of persons to act and 
be considered as one person. It had no dealings 
with individual persons, for individual persons were 
unknown to the tribal polity, and all its external 
dealings were with tribes constituted like itself as 
natural organisations. We cannot, in the legal 
sense, apply the term corporation to the corporate 
life of the tribe, because both internally and externally 
it was entirely different except in the one fact that 
it acted as a corpus. Its action, however, in this 
respect needed no sanction, for it was the only action 
possible among tribal people. 

Cattle was the principal wealth of the tribe. It 
not only constituted its capital but its medium of 
exchange — its pecunia. 

At the head of the tribe was the Ri, or king. 
He held that position as representative of the common 
ancestor and was chosen or elected by the tribesmen 
from members of the family group, who were direct 
descendants of the common ancestor. In Ireland, at 
the time when the Brehon laws were reduced to 
writing, there were several classes of tribesmen, 
evidently formed from the economical influences 
which had eaten into the primitive kinship of the 
tribe. I am, however, not concerned with these 
classes except to draw attention to the existence of 
a servile or slave class. 1 What is of more importance 

1 It is described in the Book of Rights, 174. 


to us is the tribal system of rights. As soon as a 
member of the tribe reached the age of fourteen 
he was emancipated from the control of his parents 
and acquired certain rights, but was not invested 
with his full privileges till the encircling of the 
beard, that is till he became twenty years old, when 
he was entitled to a separate residence and a share 
of the tribe land. 1 Here it is plain that kinship 
with the tribe, and not kinship with the family, is 
the all-important fact, and the question is how was 
it arranged. A very remarkable custom is described 
in the Brehon laws, 2 which has been the subject of 
much discussion, 3 but stripped of technicalities it can 
not only be fitted in with the general conception of 
the tribe as it appears among all European peoples, 
but it can be found in actual working in the Scottish 
survival of the Celtic tribal system. 4 This custom 
is the well-known geilfine system. It commences 
with the settlement of the tribe upon a definite 
territory and the encroachment of the family upon 
tribal rights. This was " contrived in the interests 
of the noble classes who possessed sufficient influence 
to procure portions of the tribal lands to be granted 
to them and their families, to the exclusion of the 
rights of the general body of the tribe." 5 Thus the 
Irish tribal system allows us to get back to the 
most ancient conditions, to see in fact the beginnings 

1 Ancient Laws, iv. 299 ; Skene, Celtic Scotland, iii. J43. 

2 Ancient Laws, iii. 333. 

8 See particularly McLennan, Studies i?i Ancie?it History, 351-387; 
Maine, Early History of Institutions, 216 et sea. ; Ancient Laws of 
Ireland, iv. pp. xlix. et seq. 

4 I have pointed this out in my Village Community ', 134-135. 

5 Ancient Laws of Ireland, iv. p. xciii. 


of the family system as it grew inside the tribal 

The tribe assembled for public purposes, every 
free tribesman attending and taking his part in the 
transactions, and the place of meeting was sacred to 
its purpose and was always in the open air. 1 There 
is much in the tribal assembly in its primitive con- 
ditions which lasted long in later conditions. The 
decision by unanimous vote and not by majority 
votes ; 2 the meeting place becoming the sacred spot 
for both tribal and religious functions ; the law of 
the tribe being judicial rather than legislative ; the 
ceremonial assuming a character which brought about 
an almost sacred adhesion to accepted forms ; the 
position of the tribal chieftain as an elected head ; 
these are all points of great moment in the develop- 
ment of tribal institutions on British soil and which 
though best seen in the Irish evidence are all present 
in the Welsh evidence. 

The group of kindred thus constituted and thus 
kept together had one other feature which it is 
important to note. No member of the tribe ever 
acted or thought of acting individually — every act 
of an individual tribesman was the act of the kinship 
group, every act from without the tribe did not 
effect an individual tribesman, but the whole tribe. 
This principle is most clearly and characteristically 
shown in the system of punishment for the slaughter 
or injury of a tribesman. Such an act " was considered 

1 I have worked out this subject in my book, Primitive Folkmoots, 
which, though containing many errors, is still useful as to the facts. 

2 Kovalevsky, Modem Customs and Ancient Laws of Russia, 122 ; 
Drew, Northern Barrier of India, 177 ; Skene, Celtic Scotland, iii. 391. 


as a loss to the tribe itself, which must be compensated 
for, and when compensation was made and accepted 
the criminal was free." 1 Compensation was based 
upon a system of fines which consisted of a fixed 
value put upon each member of the tribe, according 
to his position and rank, and expressed by a standard 
of value in cattle. It was his "honor price." 2 It 
helped to keep up the form of tribal kinship long 
after the facts of tribal kinship had ceased to operate 
in their primitive conditions, and it knit together the 
members of the tribe in an economical and judicial 
sense, after the principle of kinship had faded 

The final point to note is what existed outside 
the tribe. There were only non-tribesmen, and the 
tribeless person was not endowed with rights under 
the tribal system. Such rights as he succeeded in 
obtaining were granted to him out of the necessities 
of the tribesmen. Perhaps the most significant 
characteristic of the tribal system is the entire separa- 
tion of tribesmen from people who were not tribesmen. 
Non-tribesmen were not of the blood, were not of 
the ruling caste, were the conquered and the outcast, 
and into their ranks were poured all those tribesmen, 
who on account of crime had to be outlawed and 
deprived of tribal rights. Between tribesmen and 
non-tribesmen, where we can examine the tribal 
system in Britain, there were reciprocal rights, but 
they were the reciprocal rights obtaining among 

1 Skene, Celtic Scotland, iii. 152. 

2 Mr Seebohm's two books, Tribal System in Wales and Tribal 
Custom in Anglo-Saxon Law, should be consulted on this subject, 


strangers, or it may be enemies ; they were simply 
the rights created by tribesmen in order to secure 
a condition of government over non-tribesmen in 
lieu of exterminating them from the tribal territory 
and the tribal precincts. In one important detail 
this position of non-tribal law is most strongly 
exemplified, that is, in the jus conubii. There was 
no equality of conubium between the tribal man or 
woman and the non-tribal woman or man. The 
condition of non - tribalism governed the whole 
matter, and whether we turn to the Irish, the Welsh, 
or the English system, it is clear that the non-tribes- 
man or woman was cut off from the tribe in this 
important respect. No doubt the rule became 
loosened as settlement became more and more 
fixed, no doubt it allowed of breaking points in 
practice, but the rule in its origin and during a 
long continuance was inexorable, and was intended 
to be inexorable. It enabled the ruling tribe to 
keep its place amidst an alien people, and it 
emphasised the position which blood kinship attained 
as an important governing political force. The 
study of the relationship between Roman and Celtic 
Britain cannot be undertaken without this fact being 
steadily borne in mind ; for to the proud jus conubii 
of the Roman city has to be added the equally proud 
jus conubii of the Celtic tribe. There was much to 
break down here before amalgamation and assimila- 
tion could take place, and it will require stronger 
evidence than can be produced from the doubtful 
reading of archaeological remains to establish the 
position that Britain under the Romans was a Britain 


of Roman and Celtic peoples, living under a system 
of Roman culture and aspiration. 

I should like very much to dwell upon several 
other significant features of the tribe, but I must 
content myself with one or two additional points 
of a more general nature. The tribe was a com- 
munity of persons, capable of transplanting itself 
whithersoever it chose, unattached to any territory, 
kept together by the ties of common religion, common 
descent and kinship, and by a multitude of extremely 
primitive but inexorable rules of conduct and society. 
When we read of the hill tribes of India in conflict 
with the British forces of modern times, we have a 
better idea of the relationship of Celtic and Saxon 
tribes to the Roman organisation in early Britain 
than I can convey, except by a lengthy description. 

The ancient conditions of the tribal organisation, 
as it existed in Britain, are now, perhaps, sufficiently 
clear. 1 A most important phase has next to be 
examined, which will take us a good way onward in 
the study before us. This is the relationship of the 
tribal organisation to the later organisation — that of 
the nation, the state, and the kingdom. This subject 
will introduce us to an important distinction between 
the Celtic and the Saxon tribe, and a distinction which 
is full of significance to later parts of our enquiry. 

The Celtic tribe has not developed into any of 
the modern institutions of the country. In the form 
of survival some of its parts have been absorbed 

1 I am working out the important facts connected with the tribal 
system in Britain in a separate study, Tribal Custom, which I hope to 
publish shortly. 


into modern institutions, while others have died out 
during the developments of historical times. But it 
is not, so far as I can discover, the parent institution 
of any modern institution. In England the Teutonic 
system swept it on one side or absorbed it ; in 
Scotland it survived in the Highlands to a late 
period, and determined rights to property, methods 
of local government, and methods of agriculture, only 
in turn to be swept on one side by advancing political 
and economical progress ; in Ireland it survived to 
form the groundwork of much of the social discontent 
of the Irish people only again to be swept away 
by English legislation and by commercial progress. 
Above all things, it is to be noted that the Celtic 
tribal system survived through the Romanisation of 
Britain. All that we know of it is of post Roman 
date, and the facts relating to the Welsh tribal system 
after passing through the period of Roman domina- 
tion are comparable point by point to the Irish tribal 
system or to the Saxon tribal system, which under- 
went no such treatment. 

There is a further distinction when we come to 
compare the Celtic with the Saxon tribe. The Celtic 
tribe has ever remained undeveloped, and is revealed 
to us as a fossil social stratum rather than a factor in 
a series of developments. 1 On the other hand, the 

1 Momrasen {History of Rome, iv. 229) considers the Celts to have 
reached their highest point of culture, and points out that they were 
unable to produce from their own resources "a national state." Sir Henry 
Maine suggests that they would have developed the state. {Early 
History of Institutions, 54-55.) Professor Rhys claims that in the tribal 
leagues, in the Kymric sovereignty, and in the Picto-Gaelic sovereignty, 
there are strong evidences of the development towards state government. 


Saxon tribal system developed from stage to stage, 
and finally emerged as an Anglo-Saxon state system. 
This has undoubtedly formed the foundation of the 
English constitution, though it was never completed 
by the Anglo-Saxon ; perhaps it could not have been 
so completed. 

This distinction is remarkable. Whether the life 
blood of the Celtic tribe was sucked up by the Roman 
Government, whether it was arrested by the Teutonic 
invasion, or whether its stage of development in this 
country was not favourable to further development 
are questions which must be contrasted with the 
one great question which must be asked of the 
Teutonic tribal system — was it assisted in its develop- 
ment towards the modern state by the cementing 
qualities of the Roman power when, as in Britain, 
it had a concentrated energy kept together partly 
by geographical, partly by political, facts ? This 
question must form the third and last part of the 
preliminary enquiry necessary to understand the 
position of London among English institutions. 


There is clearly something to be gained by a 
consideration of how the two systems of polity, the 
state polity of Rome and the tribal polity of Britain, 
stood to each other after the Roman Government 
was removed. Rome had brought with her to 
Britain for her own use, certain advanced principles 

{Celtic Britain, 140, 202.) But I do not think Professor Rhys sufficiently 
distinguishes between "states" and "tribes." 


of politics and law, all reduced to a system, and 
formulated in a philosophical terminology of the 
highest degree of excellence. When Britain was 
given up as a province of the empire she inherited 
from her former masters whatever of their politics 
and their law could be assimilated by her princes 
and leaders, or carried on by the Roman citizens 
who were left behind. 1 If we find British kings 
advancing to power by the use of methods not Celtic 
in origin or nature, we shall find also that they have 
adapted for their purposes, personal or political, the 
methods of the Roman occupiers of their land. If 
we find leaders of Roman name and descent 
advancing to power and assuming the position of 
Celtic kings we shall also find the methods of 
the Roman empire. This dual position is a very 
important factor. The Roman cities and leaders 
soon found that they could not resist the conquerors 
who were swarming to the victory without the help 
of their Celtic countrymen. The Celtic kings and 
chiefs soon found that they could not resist with- 
out the help of the Roman cities and the power and 
discipline residing therein. Roman leader and Celtic 
chief had therefore a dual political position. The 
military leader of the Romans, if he was to attain 
complete success, had to become a chief or king of 

1 Mr Coote has argued learnedly and acutely that a great body of 
Roman citizens remained behind in Britain. I do not see the evidence 
for this. The colonies were not occupied entirely by Roman citizens. 
Thus Moors were settled at Watchcross, Spaniards at Pevensey, 
Dalmatians at Broughton (Pearson, History of England, i. 43), and so 
on. The law by which the persons who filled magistracies and offices 
of honour, and they alone, acquired the Roman franchise was no doubt 
the rule in Britain, see ante, 29. 


the Celtic Britons ; the Celtic chief or king had to 
become the military leader of the Roman cities. In 
this way only could the two systems and the two 
peoples be formed into one defensive force, and there 
is evidence both of the strength and the weakness 
of the dual system in that period of British history 
which followed the partition of Britain from the 
Roman empire. The fact of the existence of a dual 
system, however, is of supreme importance, for it 
establishes a difference in development and the 
consequent want of assimilating power which that 
difference caused ; it shows the relationship of 
primitive politics to state institutions to be not one 
of easy assimilation or transition, not one where co- 
ordination of the various elements speaks for a new 
stage of development, but one where conjunction 
represents the new condition, with deep and broad 
fissures occasionally covered by a commanding person- 
ality — the personality of an Artorius who became the 
Arthur of romance — but always showing themselves real 
again when events proceeded along more normal lines. 1 
Let me at this point put two questions — what 

1 Perhaps Geoffrey of Monmouth and Matthew of Westminister 
preserve a genuine tradition when they relate the attack of the Cornish 
Britons upon Alectus in London. The Britons attack the city, but 
Levius Gallus, the colleague of Alectus, "collected the rest of the 
Romans in the city of London," "residuos Romanos collegit in urbe 
Londoniarum," Mat. West. Flores Hist. i. 166, and the great fight 
ended in the slaughter of the Roman Londoners at the torrent below 
the city called Nautgallus or Walbrook, a.d. 294. The panegyric upon 
Constantius also contains a passage which refers to two parties in 
London. The Romans arriving there put to death in the streets a 
large number of that mercenary multitude of barbarians (barbarorum) 
who had fled thither from the battle. (Eumenius, a.d. 296, cap. iii.) 


would be the system of government after the Romans 
had left Britain ? if the iron hand of imperial rule 
was relaxed, what would be the atoms which struggled 
for supremacy — struggled towards some form of 
government ? At first we shall find the tendency to 
be always towards an imperial Britain. Cast off from 
the Roman empire the ambitious rulers dreamed of 
a British empire, but it was a British empire on 
Roman lines. Then we shall find that this tendency 
was not kept up. There were not the elements for 
it. Ambitious Roman generals gave it the start, 
but these out of the way, we have Celtic chiefs taking 
their place, and these could not dream imperial dreams, 
for their training had not extended their vision beyond 
or much beyond the tribe. Gibbon relates the 
position of affairs at this juncture as follows : 

" The independent country during a period of forty years 
(a.d. 409-449) till the descent of the Saxons was ruled by 
the authority of the clergy, the nobles, and the municipal 
towns. Under the protection of the Romans, ninety-two con- 
siderable towns had arisen in the several parts of Britain, 
and among these thirty-three cities were distinguished above 
the rest, by their superior privileges and importance. Each 
of these cities, as in all the other provinces of the empire, 
formed a legal corporation, for the purpose of regulating 
their domestic policy, and the powers of municipal govern- 
ment, were distributed among annual magistrates, a select 
senate, and the assembly of the people, according to the 
original model of the Roman constitution." * 

The British chiefs would be disposed, Gibbon 
thinks, to affect the dress, the language, and the 
customs of their ancestors, while the cities studiously 

1 Decline and Fall (Bury), iii. 353. 


preserved the laws and manners of Rome — the 
former, therefore, tended towards the tribal institu- 
tions of the Celtic people, the latter tended 
towards the civic ideals of the Roman empire. 
Finally the British Church, composed of thirty or 
forty bishops, met in councils, where the British 
chiefs and the city magistrates sat promiscuously 
with the bishops, and tended more in the direction 
of a state organisation than any other institution of 
the time. 1 But the Church dissipated its powers by 
its incessant labours to eradicate doctrinal heresies, 
and thus practically the British tribal chief and the 
Roman cities were the only representatives of civil 

Mr Arthur Evans, in quest of evidence for quite 
a different purpose from mine, has practically come to 
the same conclusion. It is probable, he says, that 
during the period that immediately succeeded the 
overthrow of direct Imperial Government in Britain, 
at least its north-eastern parts were administered by 
the civic officers of the various municipal common- 
wealths. Unity of action would, to a certain extent, 
be secured by the provincial conventus of the civitates, 
the tradition of which seems to find expression in the 
conventional election of the monarch of Britain 
recorded in the Welsh triads, 2 just as the conventus 
of the Illyrian civitates is preserved by the con vend 
of the Albanian clans. And it is noteworthy that 
the celebrated meeting of the Britons and Saxons, 

1 Mr Plummer notices how Beda indicates this factor in the develop- 
ment of the state, in later times, i.e. during Saxon rule. See his notes 
to Beda, ii. 200. 

2 Myvyrian Arch. ii. 63. 


the legendary scene of Hengist's treachery, is 
described by Nennius as such a conventus. The 
conventus of the civitates was the natural place for 
electing the military officers, who still continued to 
perform the necessary functions fulfilled by the Dttx 
Britanniarum and Comes Littoris Saxonici of late 
imperial organisation. 1 

These events, succinctly explained by the great 
historian, and everywhere confirmed by later research, 
reveal the important and most significant fact that 
the withdrawal of the Roman government of Britain 
did not leave a British state, but a number of Roman 
cities as the political organisation of the country ; 
and it cannot be too thoroughly appreciated that the 
famous letter of the Emperor Honorius finally sur- 
rendering Britain as a member of the Roman empire, 
was addressed to the cities (voXeis) of Britain. 2 

We have thus three important facts clearly before 
us — (1) that the cities of Roman Britain represented 
to the Romans themselves the form of political 
government bequeathed by the Romans ; (2) that the 
British chiefs followed their ancient tribal organisa- 
tion ; and (3) that the British Church approached the 
nearest to the modern idea of state government. City, 
tribe, and a sort of church-state, are therefore the 
three institutions which appear in a perfectly incipient 
form at the beginning of British history. But we 
must note further. It is true there were cities, there 
were tribes, there was a kind of church-state, but not 

1 Numismatic Chronicle, 2nd ser. vii. 213-214 ; Compare Rhys, Celtic 
Britain, 104. 

2 This information is from a passage in Zosimus, Mon. Hist Brit. 
lxxix ; Giles, History of Ancient Britons (Excerpts), ii. 189. 


one of these three institutions was related in definite 
form to another, or to the other two — each was the 
outcome of an independent set of circumstances, and 
all were ready to be moulded together or kept apart, 
according to the course of subsequent events. 

Subsequent events did not tell for cohesion. 
The Roman cities, the seat of Roman power, were 
no doubt inhabited by Roman citizen-colonists direct 
from the cultured cities of Italy, if not here and there 
from Rome herself. They were the centres of all 
Roman life and traditions. Thus the emperors elected 
in Britain must have been elected in the cities, and 
whatever ceremonies and formulae attended this 
function were known to and practised by the 
citizens. There are frequent references in the 
early chroniclers to the ensigns of royalty being 
assumed by the emperors elected in Britain, 1 and 
all the state ceremonial attendant upon the imperial 
office was certainly carried through in the case of 
Carausius. His coins show that he chose to affect 
all the state and dignity of the Roman empire. On 
the coins and medals of this emperor we read the 
proud titles imperator Caius Carausius Pius Felix 
Augustus — the emperor Caius Carausius, the Pious ! 
the Happy ! Augustus ! On the reverse of different 
coins are inscriptions indicating different acts in 
his rule. The words concordia Augg., the concord 
of the Augusti, record the treaty entered into by 
Maximian and the acceptance of his title of 
Augustus ; Pax Aug., the peace of Augustus ; 

1 Thus Gildas notes of Maximus that he set out from Britain (cap. xiii.) 
" imperatoris insignibus." 


Tranquillitas Aug., the Tranquillity of Augustus! 
and similar inscriptions 1 plainly indicate the 
existence of all the pomp and ceremony of the 
Imperial office. But Carausius was something more 
than the successful Roman commander, and for a 
time undoubted emperor of Britain. He is known 
not only to Roman history but to British legend ; 
for the traditions attached to Caros, King of Ships, 
by the Caledonians, and contained in the wild 
exulting poems of Ossian, remind us of events 
in his remarkable history, and Professor Rhys 
has expressed his opinion that under the con- 
tracted late form of Certs Carausius has given his 
name to a pool in the Menai Straits. 2 The 
British historian Nennius gives him prominence as 
the avenger of Severus upon the Britons, 3 and 
Geoffrey of Monmouth preserves two facts which 
may have come down from genuine traditional 
sources, namely, that he obtained formal sanction 
from Rome for his gathering of the fleet, and that 
he sought for the alliance of the Britons against the 
Romans. 4 

Without attempting to estimate the value of 
these several records it seems to me clear that we 
may go so far as to say that they suggest a dual 
basis for the sovereignty of Carausius, though its 

1 Giles, History of Ancient Britons, i. 263 ; Akerman, Coins of the 
Romans relating to Britain, 1 10-146. 

2 Numismatic Chronicle, 3rd ser. vii. 197, note 9. Giles, History of 
Ancient Britons, i. 260 ; and see Skene, Celtic Scotland, iii. 124, for a 
suggestive note as to the career of Carausius reacting on Celtic legend 
and producing for Irish kings an extensive area of conquest. 

* Nennius, cap. xxiv. and compare the Irish Nennius, cap. xiii. (4). 
4 Lib. v. cap. iii. 


true significance cannot be appreciated by the 
remnants of his history which have come down to 
us. On the Roman side it is as deficient as on the 
Celtic. Nothing is said as to the city chosen by 
Carausius to represent the seat of his new empire, 
the place which corresponded to Rome in the 
Roman empire. 1 Perhaps it was not essential, as 
Carausius claimed to be joint ruler of the Roman 
empire, and held Boulogne and continental posses- 
sions in addition to Britain. But be this as it may, 
we have it, I think, in clear evidence that the greatest 
and most successful of Roman commanders who rose 
to be almost British sovereigns rested on Celtic 
institutions as upon Roman. If, therefore, we can 
turn to much later times, when the Roman dominion 
in Britain had ceased, and find by contrast the same 
dual element, but resting upon more certain and more 
developed lines, we shall have gained a great point 
in the evidence before us. 

We shall find this contrast in the greatest of all 
the British commanders, and it is of great and 
important significance that when a Roman rose 
to the position of ruler of Britain, after the fall 
of the Roman dominion, he goes to the cities for 
his formal recognition— not to the one great city, 
the new Rome, but to at least three of the cities of 
Britain. It was not therefore an exact prototype 
of Roman rule he was following. It was Roman 
rule plus some new element. 

The great Roman to whom I refer was Artorius, 

1 His coins come from the London Mint, for the most ^x^Archaologia^ 
xlvi. 341 ; Roach Smith, Illustrations of Roman London, 10-11. 


the British Arthur. He rose to eminence on the 
ashes of the Roman power in Britain, defending 
Roman and Celt alike against the invasion of the 
Teuton. But he was originally not a Celtic hero 
but a Roman general, whose name Artorius is 
"demonstrably a Roman nomen." 1 Nennius calls 
him simply " dux bellorum " (cap lvi.) in a passage 
which contrasts him with kings of the British. His 
success as a general gave him the right to a higher 
title than "dux," and it was in the Roman cities that 
this higher title was agreed to and conferred. 

Of course a great many wild things have been 
said about King Arthur ; but amidst the wildness 
there are gleams of events which, as recorded, do 
not help forward the mythic and extravagant parts of 
the narrative, but which are embedded, so to speak, in 
these parts as fragments of the sober facts which really 
belong to history. And these events take us to the 
Roman cities of Britain, a circumstance the importance 
of which will appear a little later on. 

The chronicler, Geoffrey of Monmouth, picked up 
his material from popular legend, and this enhances the 
importance of it when it contains facts known to be 
true to the circumstances of the time, but not actually 
necessary to the flow of the story. Let me, as an 
example, relate his story of Arthur's election as king. 

" The proceres from several provinces assembled together 
at Silchester, and proposed to Dubricius, Archbishop ot 
Legions, that he should consecrate Arthur to be their king. 

1 Coote {Romans of Britain, 189-190) first pointed out this interesting 
fact, and gave his authorities therefor. Professor Rhys accepts it. (Celtic 
Britain, 239.) 


Dubricius, therefore, grieving for the calamities of his country, 
Arturum regni diademate insignivit." x 

There is nothing wild about this statement, so 
far as it relates to the election of Artorius, a Roman, 
to be the king of the Britons, to lead them against the 
Saxons, and his coronation at Silchester, a Roman 
city. Geoffrey makes Arthur to be the son of Uther 
Pendragon, and only fifteen years of age at the time 
of his coronation as successor to his father. This 
is Geoffrey's usual method of investing traditional 
facts with the gloss of an unauthenticated British 
glory. Dismissing the obviously wrong gloss, we 
find there is something very significant in this record 
of a crowning at Silchester. After his great victories 
over the enemies of the Britons, Arthur was also 
crowned at Caerleon - upon - Usk, another of the 
Roman cities, which took upon themselves the 
government of Britain after the separation from 
the Roman Empire. This ceremony was apparently 
more magnificent, as I shall presently describe, but 
why was it necessary at all ? Once a king is crowned, 
according to modern ideas, he is always crowned. 
But here we have a crowning at Silchester and a 
crowning at Caerleon, and I interpret the evidence 
to mean that these cities were more or less inde- 
pendent centres, and to admit the sovereignty of 
any particular person over them, needed in every 
case a definite recognition by each city. Silchester 
could not command or bind Caerleon ; what Silchester 
chose to do with regard to the sovereignty of Artorius 
did not bind Caerleon to do the same. But this is 

1 Lib. ix. cap. i. 


not all. Geoffrey of Monmouth mentions only the 
two cities of Silchester and Caerleon in connection 
with the crowning of Arthur. Apart from the doubts 
connected with the Silchester ceremony, the limitation 
to even these two cities is arbitrary, on the part of the 
historian, and not real, as will be seen by the fact that 
it is recorded in another chronicle that Arthur was 
also crowned at London. 1 Silchester, Caerleon, and 
London, three of the most important of the Roman 
cities, which would have been in a position to carry 
on Roman traditions, or the new conceptions of semi- 
independence arising out of Roman traditions, are 
thus prominently concerned. That no one historian 
deals with the subject as an accepted whole, but that 
different historians, taking into account only their 
limited survey of events, contribute separately the 
names of the cities where the crowning took place, 
enables us to understand that the evidence points 
to the Roman cities exercising independent rights 
towards the newly risen and successful British 
sovereign — rights which could only be waved in 
favour of the sovereign, after the necessary cere- 
monies for that purpose had been performed. 
Caerleon is described as magnificent by reason of 
its royal palaces with lofty gilded roofs — a description 
which is familiar to us by what is said about this city 
from another and much later source, the historian 
Giraldus. 2 Geoffrey's narrative proceeds : 

"As soon as the king was invested \Regem tandem 
insignito\ he was conducted in great pomp to the Metropolitan 

1 Chronicle of the Picts and Scots, edit. Skene, 382. 

2 Giraldus Cambrensis, Itin. IVates, cap. v. 


Church, supported on each side by two archbishops, and 
having four sub-kings, viz., of Albania, Cornwall, Demetia, 
and Venedotia, whose right it was, bearing four golden 
swords before him. On another part was the queen dressed 
out in her richest ornaments, conducted by the archbishops 
and bishops to the Temple of Virgins ; the four queens also of 
the kings last mentioned bearing before her four white doves, 
according to custom \de more]. When divine service was 
over at both churches the king and queen put off their 
crowns \diademata sua\ and putting on their lighter garments 
went to the banquet ; he to one place with the men, and she 
to another with the women ; for the Britons still observed 
the ancient custom \antiquam consuetudineni\ by which men 
and women used to celebrate their festivals apart. As soon as 
the banquets were over, they went into the fields without 
the city to divert themselves with various sports." l 

In this description it is noticeable that direct allusion is 
made to ancient custom as the foundation of particular 
parts of the ceremonial ; and there are other points 
not calling for present discussion which point to the 
trustworthiness of the account. 

This succession of the Roman-born Artorius to 
the British sovereignty represents the very beginnings 
of the conception of Britain as a state. The cere- 
monial derived from the independent cities was used 
to cement the cities and the tribal territories into 
some sort of connected whole, some approach to the 
conception of a national government in the sense in 
which we understand that term. 

Artorius had but followed earlier examples as 
he was followed by later. The Emperor Maximus, 
one of the Roman emperors elected in Britain, was 

1 Geoffrey, lib. ix. cap. xiii. 


defeated and killed by Theodosius in a.d. 388, but 
his descendants continued to reign in Britain, in Reged 
and Strath Clyde, in Gwent and Powys, long after the 
extinction of the Roman power. 1 Aurelius Ambrosius 
was a descendant of one of the emperors who had 
reigned in Britain, and his defence against the in- 
coming Saxons and the decisive battle known as that 
of " Mons Badonicus," or " Caer Badon," the heights 
above the Roman city of Bath, again bring us into 
contact with one of the Roman cities of Britain. 
Palgrave hesitates to accept the opinion of Baronius, 
that Ambrosius actually continued the legitimate 
succession of the empire of the west, 2 and Mr 
Plummer noting this gives us a better mode of 
stating the facts that "he was the last of those 
so-called tyrants or usurpers, who, from Maximus 
downwards, attempted to exercise Roman authority 
in Britain." 3 

This assumption of the regal title in Britain by 
Roman generals can be accounted for by several 
important pieces of evidence, and Mr Arthur Evans 
has drawn attention to parallel cases on the continent, 
where a Roman population isolated from the rest of 
the empire obeyed and perhaps elected a rex Roman- 
orum.* Mr Evans very acutely suggests that the 
depletion of the city population of south-east Britain 

" consequent on the barbarian ravages was constantly giving 
greater prominence to the Celtic element even in that part of 

1 Palgrave, Hist Eng. Com. i. 383-415. 

2 Hist. Eng. Com. i. 393. 

3 Beda, notes, ii. 30 ; cf. Rhys, Celtic Britain, 104-105, 107-110 ; Guest, 
Origines Celticce, ii. 172-175. 

4 Numismatic Chro?iicle, 3rd ser. vii. 216. 


the island which, during the past four centuries, had been 
most thoroughly Romanised ; and it was no doubt to a great 
extent the natural outcome of these altered relations that 
the title of rex now comes to the fore in British annals." 

But this growing prevalence of the regal title in 
Britain must not by any means be taken to indicate 
the abrogation of all Roman tradition. A rex 
Romanorum was no longer an anomaly. 

" As a title it afforded a convenient bridge to unite the 
fealty of Roman and barbarian. But the very fact that 
such a title obtained a currency among the isolated patches 
of Romanic population that still raised their heads above 
the barbarian flood, is a witness to their despair of setting 
up pretenders to higher imperial rank. The time had gone 
by when a Maximus could go forth from his British home 
to Rome or Trier, or a Carausius could even secure his 
sway over so much of the Roman world as was contained 
within the isle of Britain." x 

Nevertheless, the over-kings of the British, such 
as Arthur was, were sometimes called by the Welsh 
chroniclers "Kessarogion," i.e. " Csesarians," 2 and I 
think the fact important. Professor Rhys also con- 
siders the Welsh title of " Wledig" or " Gwledig " to 
represent by unbroken tradition the Dux Britanniarum 
of imperial times, 3 while the fact that one of the 
ancestors of Cuneda, the great ruler of the Cymry, is 
called " Padarn Pesrud," literally, " Paternus of the Red 
Tunic," 4 is additional proof that the Celtic chiefs relied 
for the symbols of their sovereignty, and perhaps for 

1 Evans, loc. cit. 215-217. 

2 Rhys, Celtic Britain, 2nd edit. 135. 

3 Rhys, Celtic Britain, 104 ; Rhys and Brynmor Jones, Welsh People, 
119 ; Palgrave, Hist. Eng. Com. i. 415. 

4 Rhys and Brynmor Jones, Welsh People, 1 19. 


some of its powers, upon the practices and formulae of 
the Roman empire. The precise value of all this 
evidence as to Roman generals becoming British 
princes, and British princes succeeding to the military- 
positions and assuming the official dignity of Roman 
governors, is perhaps difficult to estimate correctly, but 
it is abundantly clear that it shows dual influences at 
work, namely, Roman influences and British influences. 
I am by these references linking together the 
scattered remnants which show the earliest signs 
of the development of the British state. Let me 
take a step forward. The earliest of the Saxon 
leaders were war-chiefs, leading warriors to battle 
and to victory. They were not even tribal kings. 
But after the lust of conquest had taught them how 
to act in this complex territory of Britain, with its 
British chiefs, its Roman sovereigns such as Artorius 
and Ambrosius undoubtedly were, its Roman cities, 
where dwelt all the more important insignia of 
sovereignty, they sought for a sovereignty which 
their own English followers could not have granted 
even if they would, because it included a jurisdiction 
which was not theirs to give, namely, a jurisdiction 
over the conquered Celt. They became not only 
kings of the various Saxon kingdoms, kings of 
sovereign descent along a royal lineage of traditional 
dignity and sacredness, but Bretwaldas of the whole 
island — that is, sovereigns of Saxon and British alike, 
imperial sovereigns having kings or sub-kings under 
their rule, 1 lands, territories, and possessions which 
did not belong to them as Anglo-Saxon chieftains. 

1 Mr Plummer in his notes to Beda points out that the historian 


I do not discuss this institution at length ; my 
object is merely to show that after the death of the 
real Roman sovereigns, Artorius, Ambrosius, and the 
others, sovereigns of Saxon descent took their place, 
and took their place in Roman fashion. 1 The first 
of these, Ella (490-491) was " Bretwalda of all 
Britain," although his own little native kingdom of 
South Saxons was situated in a remote corner of 
the island. There is no mention of the manner in 
which he obtained the dignity, but it must have 
been by the aid or the request of the conquered 
Britons after the merciless slaughter and overthrow 
of Anderida, the British city. ^Ethelbert (560-616) 
adopted on his coinage the emblem of the wolf and 
twins from the coins of Constantine, 2 and according 
to Beda " introduced judicial decrees after the 
Roman model," juxta exempla Romanortim? E ad win 
(617-633) adorned himself with all the insignia of 
Roman authority. His dignity, says the historian 
Beda, as of a special thing to be observed 

" was so great throughout his dominions that his banners 
were not only borne before him in battle, but even in time 
of peace, when he rode about his cities, towns, or provinces, 
with his officers, the standard-bearer was wont to go before 
him ; also when he walked along the streets, that sort 

distinguishes clearly "between the immediate dominions or regnum 
of any king, and the imperium or overlordship which he might exercise 
over other Saxon kingdoms or Celtic tribes," ii. 86. 

1 This is Palgrave's view of the Bretwalda. (Hist. Eng. Com. i. 562- 
568.) Freeman, of course, opposed it. (Hist. Norm. Conq. i. 27-28, 
I 34" I 39) 54 2 -556-) Cf. Kemble, Saxons in England, ii. 8-22 ; Lappenberg, 
England under Saxon Kings, 1. 125-128. 

2 Numismatic Chronicle, 3rd ser. vii. 195. 
* Hist. ii. cap. v. 


of banner (illud genus uexilli) which the Romans call Tufa, 
and the English, Thuuf, was in like manner borne before 
him." 1 

These are real continuations of Roman institutions. 
It must not be considered, as Sir Francis Palgrave 
remarks, that these insignia were merely toys or 
baubles : visible symbols of dignity possess consider- 
able influence under all circumstances, and men who 
attempt to decry the importance of the outward tokens 
of political power are often most influenced by the 
objects which they deride ; in the ruder states of 
society the insignia of authority are even still more 
important, they speak a language which cannot be 
misunderstood, they are the only means of declaring 
and notifying the station and rank of the sovereign, 
for their language is symbolism and not words, and 
symbolism is required when many peoples and many 
tongues exist. 2 

If we may thus specialise the evidence which 
tends to show that the Roman system of govern- 
ment had its influence upon later events, we must 
not put this influence at too high a value. State 
ceremonial which implies imperialism, merchant law 
which implies commercial economics, municipal law 
which implies a distinct city unit of political strength, 
were powerful forces, but they did not eradicate 
tribal influences. They broke up the tribes, but 
entered upon the territorialism of the tribes, and 
this broke up the cities. The two parts of the 
dual system acted and reacted upon each other, 

1 Beda, lib. ii. cap. xvi. 

2 Palgrave, Hist. Eng. Com. i. 564-565. 


and the city system being destroyed, we can almost 
see the Anglo-Saxon state emerging from the chaos 
of tribal conflict and foreign invasion, and based 
upon a wider franchise, so to speak, than the Roman 
state had been. It began with the tribal territory 
and developed with the continual merger of tribal 
territory with tribal territory, of kingdom with 
kingdom, until the whole area of the country was 
included as part of the state. The remaining part 
of the state consisted of the persons living in the 
tribe, kingdom, or country — persons and territory 
combined thus becoming the fundamental conception 
of the Anglo-Saxon state. 

I cannot, however, discover that the Anglo-Saxon 
state, though commencing on this broad basis, ever 
developed beyond the primary stages. If it threw 
over the city as a nucleus, in favour of the country 
as a basis, it did not allow itself full swing within 
its own conceptions. In Beda's time there was no 
Teutonic name for the whole country. 1 The Saxons 
applied the term "Brittania" to the Celtic parts of 
the island, 2 and the Celts applied the term " Saxonia " 
to those parts of Britain occupied by Teutonic tribes, 3 
but there is no equivalent for the Anglo-Saxon state. 
Indeed, it seems quite clear from the first instance 
of a sense of unity among the English tribes, when 
Oswy and Egbert met in joint deliberation "on the 
state of the Church of the English," that the impulse 
arose, not from civil causes but from ecclesiastical. 4 

1 Plummer, Beda, ii. 149. 

2 Haddan and Stubbs, Concilia, iii. 477 ; Mon. Hist. Brit. 471. 

3 Beda, iii. xix., and Mr Plummer's note, ii. 172. 

4 Beda, iii. xxix., and Mr Plummer's valuable note, ii. 200. 


The same evidence meets us throughout the Anglo- 
Saxon period. No monarch ought to express the 
position of the state in the terms of his own title 
more thoroughly than the great ^Ethelstan. At his 
accession he styled himself " King of the Angul- 
Saxons." In 927 he called himself " Monarch of all 
Britain n ; in 929 he was administering " the kingdom 
of all Albion." But these territorial titles did not fit 
easily into the Anglo-Saxon conception of the state, 
and in 933 he called himself " King of the English 
folk and of all the nations dwelling with them on 
every side " — Angligenarum omniumque gentium 
undique secus habitantium rex — a sufficient indica- 
tion of the want of political cohesion among the 
several elements in the country. Two later titles 
assumed by this king show the same state of insta- 
bility. In 934 he was " Angul - Saxon king and 
Brytenwealda of all these islands," and again, "Basileus 
of the English and at the same time Emperor of the 
kings and nations dwelling within the bounds of 
Britain." 1 All this striving after political unity by 
one of the greatest sovereigns of the Anglo-Saxon 
race, with its undoubted failure, shows clearly enough 
the new condition of things which had arisen. The 
Celtic and Teutonic tribal systems did not admit 
of the terms country or nation ; the Roman political 
system did not admit of these terms. And yet 
towards the close of the Anglo-Saxon kingship, we 

1 These titles are contained in the documents published in the Cod. 
Dip. mxcix. mc. cccxlvii. mcix. mcx. cccxlix. See also Mr W. 
de Gray Birch, Titles of Anglo-Saxon Sovereigns (Index Society), and 
Green, Conquest of England, 241, 269. 



find the idea of country, the conception of a national 
system of government approaching towards its com- 
pletion. And we cannot doubt that the work of 
the newly developed tribal kingship of Celts and 
Teutons in Roman Britain, where the cities were the 
centre of institutional life, is to be seen in this result. 

We have the Saxon kings attempting to succeed 
to the imperial sovereignty of Britain, attempting 
therefore, though perhaps unconsciously, to weld 
Britain more closely into a state, and so to get rid 
of its independent parts. It was the existence of the 
independent parts which made their action possible. 
Theirs was not a settlement upon virgin soil. They 
had to reckon with forces already strongly planted, 
and they set about their work under the direct 
inspiration of Roman ceremonies and dignities. I 
think this inspiration came from the Roman cities 
of Britain, and this view may be confirmed by the 
attitude of the Anglo - Saxon sovereignty to the 

At this stage we come across a point in the 
history of London. I have said above that the 
independent crowning of Artorius at Silchester, at 
Caerleon, and at London revealed the independence 
of the cities with reference to each other and to the 
sovereign chief. A still more significant fact reveals 
the independence of London. London was not con- 
quered by Hengist nor was it ever incorporated into 
the kingdom of Kent. It was afterwards nominally 
included in the kingdom of the East Saxons, and 
the monarchs of Kent and Essex exercised certain 
powers over trie city, but, strictly speaking, we have 


no proof that London ever formed part of the early 
Saxon kingdom. 1 This cannot be said of any other 
Roman city of Britain. They were either conquered 
or incorporated. But London was neither conquered 
nor incorporated. Apart from this negative proof of 
London's independence, there is something like positive 
proof, for in a charter of King Eadgar the fact is noted 
that on the site where Westminster Abbey now stands, 
in loco terribili, a place of dread, a temple, had been 
erected by the pagan kings, but was then, a.d. 604, 
dedicated to the service of St Peter by the " King 
of London," sub-regulo Londonise. 2 Ethelbert was 
the over-king, the Bretwalda, hence there was only 
the sub-king of London ; and the fact, isolated though 
it is, shows that London only became subject to a 
sovereign by accepting him as their king, or over- 
king, and clothing him with all the ceremonial known 
to them from Roman traditions. The independence 
of London and its connection with the sovereignty 
is shown in another direction, for significance is 
undoubtedly to be given to the statement in the 
laws of Howel Dha, " which are legal treatises once 
in practical use," that Dyfnwal Moelmud was king 
''before the crown of London and the supremacy 

1 Palgrave, Hist. Eng. Com. i. 414 ; Lappenberg, History of England 
under the Anglo-Saxons, i. 112; Green, Making of England, 98-113. 
Even at so late a period as 1016, and during the adjustment of so 
important a question as the Danish settlement in England the text 
of Florence states the districts to be given to Edmund to include 
" East Saxoniam cum Lundonia." Similarly in 895 it was " magna pars 
civium Lundoniensium, et de vicinis locis quamplures " who attacked the 
Danes. This separate treatment of London is most significant, though 
I do not note that it has been referred to. See Plummer's note to 
Saxon Chronicles, ii. 199. 

1 Cod. Dip. dlv. ; Elton, Origins of English History, 412. 


of this island were seized by the Saxons." 1 Still 
further we find that after the first rush of the 
English conquest was over, and when Christianity 
was winning its way, the formal independence of 
London is indicated by the position of the bishops 
who governed it. The English bishoprics were 
universally equivalent with the English kingdoms, 
and these were tribal, not territorial. Presently, I 
shall be investigating this side of Saxon history, but 
here it is only necessary to point out the contrast. 
Instead of being bishop of the East Saxons, Mellitus 
is called bishop of London, Earconwald is bishop in 
the city of London, Waldhere is bishop of the city 
of London, Ingwald is Lundoniensis antistes, 2 and 
London is the only spot of Roman Britain which in 
this connection retains its territorial characteristic in 
the midst of tribal conditions. 


This is where I must leave the preliminary part 
of our subject. It has led us back to London, the 
city with which we are immediately concerned, and 
we may attempt a rough summary of our work. We 
have seen Roman cities handing on their traditions 
of Roman ceremonial to British and then to Saxon 
chiefs ; we have London possessing a king of its 
own, who had become underlord to the imperial 
Bretwalda of Britain, but who submitted to no tribal 
king as conquered to the conqueror. We have city 

1 Rhys and Brynmor-Jones, Welsh People, 130. 

2 Plummer, notes to Beda, ii. 178. 


government and tribal government in direct 
antagonism to each other, and we seem to have 
the growth of the Anglo - Saxon state in its very 
earliest stages. These results are most significant, 
and they mark the relationship of London to the 
rest of the country during this beginning period 
of English history. Moreover, we seem to have 
arrived at a stage where the use of the terms city 
and state are once more admissible, though in a 
sense different from that in which they were used 
to explain the origin of Roman institutions and the 
basis of their expansion under the imperial system. 
The indiscriminate use of these important terms by 
our older historians and by some modern writers is 
the source of immense confusion and many mistakes. 
I am sure that they cannot properly be used in 
respect of purely British institutions prior to the 
Roman conquest or during the Roman occupation. 
They can only be used in respect of Saxon institu- 
tions in a limited degree, and only for the later 
periods. We no longer have the city of ancient 
politics, a sovereign city, not included in and sub- 
ordinate to a sovereign state, but independent, with 
dependent territory immediately around it, conquered 
by its arms and ministering to its wealth and needs ; 
nevertheless we are conscious that a large part of 
this conception of the city was kept alive even during 
Roman imperial dominion, allowing for a reversion 
to it when the Roman sovereignty ceased in Britain. 
We thus get an entirely new view of the 
relationship of the city to the state. We find 
that the city grew out of circumstances and 


conditions not imposed by the state, perhaps in 
opposition to the state ; the state grew out of 
circumstances and conditions different from those 
out of which the city grew, perhaps inimical to 
those out of which the city grew. These are most 
impressive facts which make an enquiry into the 
relationship of a great city to the state of great and 
especial interest. To trace out when the city was 
developing and the state was decaying, when city 
and state were both developing, when the state 
passed the city in range of development, is a lesson 
in human affairs of great importance. That this is 
the necessary course of our enquiry is a fact full of 
significance. It implies a different political origin for 
the city and for the state. If we have to look for 
the development of the English state from the Anglo- 
Saxon organisation we must look elsewhere for the 
development of the city. And we must expect to 
discover a large amount of antagonism between the 
two. No doubt the Anglo - Saxon organisation 
contained the germ of the city, just as in the Greek, 
Roman, Celtic, and other European organisations, 
but this germ did not have the same fortune in 
Anglo-Saxon history as it did elsewhere. It pro- 
duced in fact the dependent burgh but not the 
independent city, and it is in this dual development 
that we recognise the dual origin. 

There is a point in the history of the city and the 
state where the two institutions meet, and a most 
important point it is. That point was passed in 
ancient Greece by the triumph of the city ; it was 
passed in ancient Italy by the triumph of the state 


in actual fact, though in nominal and sentimental 
conceptions it was the triumph of the city ; it was 
passed in modern Europe by the unquestioned 
triumph of the state both nominally and actually. 

There are some great cities of modern Europe 
wherein this passing point in the development of city 
and state is of exceptional value. Paris is one of 
these cities. Hamburg is another. But to English- 
men there is only one of supreme interest, namely, 
London. There are other cities in Britain — York, 
Lincoln, Winchester, Canterbury, and Exeter, for 
instance, which contribute notable facts towards 
elucidating the subject, but none is of such sustained 
and continuous importance as London. This is not 
because London is now the capital. It is that 
London throughout all English history has held a 
remarkable position. We can, as it appears to me, 
only thoroughly understand that position by studying 
it in relation to its origin as a city in an unformed 
state, and this will be our quest. 


If I am right in concluding that the history of English 
London begins as a city in an unformed state, it is 
clear that we must go back to Roman London for its 
beginnings as a city. It is one of the not numerous 
English cities whose site is identical with that of a 
Roman city. The Roman city of London swallowed 
up all that was Celtic. It took its name, it in- 
corporated its worship, 1 it swept away its old habitat 
on the pile dwellings at the junction of the river 
Walbrook with the Thames, 2 and all that was Celtic 
was turned on one side when Roman London began its 
career as a city. 3 There is, therefore, nothing further 
back than Roman London to which to refer for later 
influences of importance. 

In the first place, it must be emphasized once more 
that the geographical position of London in Roman 

1 Rhys {Celtic Heathendom, 129) deals with the worship of the Celtic 
god "Lud" at London. See post, in, 112. 

2 General Pitt Rivers was the first authority to identify the remains 
discovered on the banks of the old Fleet River as pile dwellings of the 
ordinary Celtic type. See Anthrop. Rev. v. p. lxxi. ; Munro, Lake 
Dwellings, 460. Mr Reader has worked up this subject in an extremely 
interesting study " on the primitive site of London " in the Arch. Journ. 
lx. 137-204, 213-235. 

3 Dr Guest, in Origines Celticce, ii. 403-406, summarises the most 
important evidence as to the position of Celtic London, when Aulus 
Plautius made his great attack upon the Celtic tribes. 



Britain did not make London a British city. This 
is important, because in almost all our histories we 
find it constantly so called. London was a Roman 
colony, dependent upon Rome for its military position, 
dependent upon Rome for its institutions, dependent 
upon Rome for its commercial greatness. Its place 
in Britain is a matter of mere geography ; its place 
on the Roman road system is more than geographical, 
it is political, and this fact determines its position as 
a city. 

It was thus that London took her place in the 
Roman empire. Roadways converged to her. The 
two great roads, Ermyn Street and Watling Street, 
entered Roman London at our now-called Bishopsgate 
and Newgate, and connected the city with all parts 
of Britain. In Mr Green's words, 

"the route which crossed the downs of Kent from Rich- 
borough to the Thames linked the roads that radiated from 
London over the surface of the island with the general 
network of communications along which flowed the social 
and political life of the Roman world." x 

By these means towns grew up to an importance 
quite out of proportion to their native capacity. 
London became a great centre of Roman commerce. 
Her life was connected with all outer life by the 
great causeways which the Roman soldier had built ; 
her wall girt her round securely from the immediate 
outer world, and when her citizens looked for the 
means of gaining the necessities of life and wealth, 
they took their stand at the city gates, and looked 
up the roadways which led to Verulamium, Etocetum, 

1 The Making of England^ 3. 


and Uriconium ; to Duromagus and Eboracum, to 
Portus Magnus, and to continental Rome. 

This is one of the most important and distinctive 
facts to notice in connection with Roman London. 
As soon as Rome had brought it, by means of her 
great system of roadways, into the imperial system, 
development moved at a pace measurable, not by 
British skill but by Roman necessities. This important 
factor in the history of Roman towns has not been 
sufficiently dwelt upon and enforced. It accounts 
for a great deal that is otherwise unaccountable. It 
bridges over years of rapid progress with a history 
that belongs not to Britain but to Rome ; it accounts 
for the rapid uprising of London into Augusta, and 
it accounts for her wonderful progress and wealth 
during the Roman rule. But all this time London 
is the London connected by roadways with the 
commerce and progress of the Roman world ; her 
British history, if she had any, is past and gone, and 
one has to think of her, not as situated in Britain, 
but as situated on the Ermyn and Watling Streets, 
which were connected with all other parts of Britain, 
and which brought London more closely into 
connection with other cities situated on the road- 
ways than with the natives who still occupied the 
open country. She dominated the country round 
her just as all Roman cities did ; but she was 
independent of it, and used it not for existence but 
for her own purposes, as contributory to her wealth 
and luxury or necessities. Thus, then, the distinction 
which belongs to Roman London, and which is very 
important to our present subject, rests upon its con- 


nection with the Roman world, its place on the Roman 
roadways, and not upon its connection with the 
Celtic Britons who lived near it, nor its place on 
the map of Britain. 

There were two Roman Londons, a Roman 
London which was simply a military centre develop- 
ing irregularly towards a commercial centre and a 
Roman London, which was a great commercial centre 
and also a great governing centre. To trace out 
these two Roman Londons is not merely an archaeo- 
logical enquiry, for it may be that the relationship of 
one to the other will reveal points of interest 
which we may have to note, and which will prove of 
value in estimating the position of London after 
Roman times. Of earliest Roman London we have 
singularly little information, but the little that exists 
shows that it never quite died out as the original 
site, and this is the point which I think has a bearing 
upon subsequent history and upon which we are 
entitled to lay stress. 

We first hear of London in historical records from 
Tacitus, who, relating the revolt of Boudicca in a.d. 61, 
tells us of the movements of the Roman commander, 
Suetonius, who decided to leave London undefended, 
and to meet the revolted Britons in the open. London, 
says Tacitus, was not yet honoured with the name 
of a colony, but was considerable as the resort of 
merchants, and for its trade. 

From the very scanty notice by Tacitus much has 


been deduced — more a great deal than I think is 
justified. But it seems clear first, that London was 
defended by a military garrison, for Suetonius is 
stated to have considered whether he should make 
London the seat of the war but decided against that 
course because of the weakness of the garrison ; 1 
secondly, that this means the exisence of a fortified 
camp there ; and thirdly, that its importance as 
a commercial centre had already begun and had 
caused a considerable extramural London to have 
developed around the fort, and so made it impossible 
to defend. 2 This appears to me all that can be 
gathered from the words of Tacitus, but it is sufficient 
to indicate the condition of the earliest Roman 

It will be an interesting and valuable factor in 
the history of London, as an institution, if it can be 
ascertained, that this earliest Roman London has not 
passed away without leaving evidence of its existence. 
In the first place, it must be remembered that it gave 
way to a later Roman London, and it might well be 
that the later city did not preserve anything of the 
older city. In the second place, the later city was 
finally occupied by the Anglo-Saxon settlers, and it 
might well be that any relics preserved by the later 
Romans would not survive the Saxon occupation. If, 
therefore, there can be proved good evidence for 
showing that traces of the earlier city survived down 
to the Saxon occupation, there will be strong evidence 

1 Tacitus, Annals, xiv. cap. xxxiii. 

2 Mommsen {Provinces of the Roman Empire, i. 177) agrees that 
London arose from its early commercial importance under the Roman 


for asserting that a considerable conserving influence 
must have existed throughout the entire period. And 
it will then become an important question, to be dealt 
with a little later on, as to what this conserving 
influence might have been. To have conserved 
Roman institutions or relics of Roman institutions 
through a Roman reform and an Anglo - Saxon 
domination must have needed a specially strong 
force, and clearly this force is a factor which cannot 
properly be neglected in considering the earliest 
history of London. It will indeed amount to a 
discovery of something which must be reckoned 
with, and reckoned with as a living force, long after 
the natural period to which it belonged had passed 
away ; and it is exactly evidence of this kind which, 
in the absence of direct evidence, tells of conditions 
favourable to the continuity of Roman institutions 
through a period which, in consequence of the 
silence of historians, has been claimed to supply 
evidence of complete and absolute destruction. 
There is no direct evidence of the destruction and 
wiping out of Roman London. There is only the 
indirect evidence of late Anglo-Saxon occupation. If 
from an examination of the circumstances of Anglo- 
Saxon occupation, we fail to find evidence of the 
creation of an English London, as a city of the 
English state, and if from the circumstances of 
Roman London, we find evidence of the conditions 
under which Roman London might have continued 
in Anglo-Saxon times, even though in an imperfect 
and truncated form, we have before us the elements 
of a problem in the history of English institutions 


which is of most important significance. It is this 
problem which may be solved by an examination of 
some of the facts relating to Roman London, and its 
solution will stamp the character of all subsequent 
investigation into the history of London as an 

The first step is to ask for the evidence as to 
traces of the earlier city in later times. We cannot 
rely upon archaeological discovery, because even when 
opportunity has served by reason of excavations for 
building or other purposes, no systematic record has 
been kept. Great architects, like Sir Christopher 
Wren, and Sir William Tite, antiquaries like Mr Roach 
Smith, Mr J. E. Price, and others have put on record 
their discoveries, but this is not enough for scientific 
purposes. We must rely upon more indirect evidence. 
Starting with a fact of immense importance to the 
Roman system of government, namely, that the 
Romans never buried their dead within the walls of 
a town, but always outside, along the sides of the 
great roadways, in cemeteries skirting the town, we 
may enquire whether the archaeological discoveries 
of Roman London show us an area, within which no 
burial remains have been found, but revealing other 
remains, and an area outside the first area, but within 
the later Roman London, where burial remains as well 
as other remains, have been found. The significance 
of these points is centred round the fact of burial 
within the walls of later Roman London, which can 
only mean without the walls of earliest Roman London, 
and of non-burial within an internal area whose external 
boundaries are formed by the burial area. 

LUNDINIUM (first pekiod) 


As a matter of fact, there is such an area of 
non-burial inside an outer area of burial, both areas 
being within the walls of later Roman London. No 
funeral relics have been found between Walbrook 
and St Dunstan's Hill, near the Tower, and these 
places may well mark the .western and eastern bound- 
aries of early Roman London. 1 It may even have 
reached as far as the Tower, though I think not. 
Mr Loftie has indeed suggested that the circle formed 
by Little Tower Street, just where it joins Idol Lane, 
may have been caused by one of the bastions of 
the eastern wall. 2 The northern boundary appears 
to have been a little south of where Lombard Street 
now is, for traces of the ditch have been found in 
that neighbourhood, and the Langbourn, that is the 
Long bourn or stream from which Langbourn Ward 
is named, ran from this north-east corner to the 
Walbrook on the west, and was doubtless part of the 
ancient boundary of early Roman London. Funeral 
relics have been found in St Dunstan's Hill on the 
east and Lombard Street on the north, but not 
between these boundaries and the river. Further 
than this remains of very massive walls have been 
found on the west at Bush Lane, near Cannon Street, 
the railway station to this day resting on what appears 
to have been one of the bastions, and on the east at 
Mincing Lane. Mr Arthur Taylor makes an addi- 
tional point of much value in the place of entry of 
Watling Street into this area, noting that it is 
there deflected into Cannon Street, and changes its 

1 See ArchcEologia, xxix. 146, 219, 268 ; xxxiii. 103-104, 112 

2 History of London^ i. 31. 


name, following, in both circumstances, the course 
taken by Roman roads entering a city. 1 Then there 
are the names Dowgate on the west, preserved in 
Dowgate Hill, Billingsgate on the east, preserved 
in the famous fish-market, Ebbgate about where old 
Swan Stairs now is, and St Botolph where Botolph 
Wharf now is, both on the south, all of which names 
indicate the sites of gates which were not part of 
the later Roman city. 2 

If these are clear indications of the beginning of 
the city — the ancient Roman camp walled in and 
fortified to command the Thames at the highest 
point of land suitable for a camp, and at the narrowest 
part of the river so far inland from the mouth, we 
may take our next step. Can we add to these 
indications any other remains of this earliest city ? 
Are we indebted to it for any boundaries, for any 
topographical features ? Are there any other signs 
that this ancient Roman camp has survived even 
the wreckage of modern days ? It is well to put 
these questions and to ascertain how far they can 
be answered, because it is not easy to penetrate 
into this inner London through all that surrounds it, 
and it is essential we should do so. If this original 
London was kept as a sort of inner defence within 
the walls of the extended London, or if it was a 
place of any sort of sanctity to the later Londoners 

1 Archceologia, xxxiii. 105. 

2 Mr Reader gives the best summary of this evidence from dis- 
coveries in Arch. Jour n. lx. 137-204, 213-235. See also Tite, Antiquities 
of Royal Exchange, p. xviii. ; Price, Roman Pavement at Bucklersbury, 
and National Safe Deposit Discovery, ii. 32. Mr Taylor suggestively 
fixes Dowgate at Cannon Street on the west and Billingsgate on the 
east. (Archceologia, xxxiii. 106-109, 121.) 


of the Roman city, which sanctity was kept alive 
until the Saxons had included London in their 
political system, it will help us considerably to under- 
stand the position of Roman London in its later 
stages. Probably in all cities of Greece and Rome, 
where city life was an ideal aimed at by the philos- 
ophy and the religion of the age, there was a sacred- 
ness attached to the earliest foundation site. Religious 
ceremony founded the city ; religious duty kept alive 
the reverence for the most ancient site consecrated to 
the original foundation. It was so in ancient Rome. 1 
It was so, I suggest, in Roman Lundinium. 

The next point relates to the boundaries. If we 
begin on the east and work along the boundaries of 
Billingsgate ward, we find the line of the ward proceeds 
from the river a little to the east of Billingsgate 

1 It is well known how sacred the remains of earliest Rome were 
kept. The sacredness of the earliest Rome was marked by " the den of 
the she wolf, who suckled Romulus and Remus," " the fig-tree under 
which the twins were stranded by the retiring waters of the Tiber ; 
the hut of Romulus thatched and wooden ; the hut of Faustulus the 
shepherd, who found and adopted the twins," and other remains in the 
Roma Quadrata. See Middleton, Ancient Rome, 1885, 56-58, 85-87 ; 
letter from Dr Lanciani on the niger lapis of the comitium in Athenceum, 
4th February 1899. See also Mommsen, History of Rome, i. 51-54; 
Niebuhr, History of Rome, i. 220-240. For Athens, see Miss Harrison's 
Primitive Athens, cap. ii. The evidence of similar survivals in Roman 
cities in Britain would help us to understand the London evidence. A 
reference to some facts about Monmouth is of considerable importance in 
this connection, and I quote the following relating to Roman Monmouth : 
— "The suburb of Over-Monnow is considered to be the site of the 
most ancient part of the town, and it is perhaps on this side the Monnow 
that the Roman town of Blestium stood. The ancient earthwork called 
Clawdd du (the black dyke), which encircles the town, is probably the 
boundary fence of the first town that was built here. Over-Monnow 
is also called Little Monmouth, and the Cappers Town, the latter term 
being from the cappers, who here carried on an industry once famous. 
At one time Little Monmouth seems to have been governed as distinct 



market, runs at the back of Idol Lane, and turns square 
off just above the church of St Margaret Pattens. 
It then proceeds westwards, parallel more or less to 
the river, crosses Rood Lane and Philpot Lane, 
and is stopped by the boundary of Bridge ward. 
This ward can be crossed, however, by the boundary 
of the parish of St Leonard, from whence, continuing 
by the boundary of Candlewick ward and extending 
along the boundary of the parish of St Swithin, 
the line returns sharply towards the river, joining the 
parish boundary of St Mary Bothaw and All Hallows 
the Great, ultimately reaching the river by Dowgate 
Hill. 1 These boundaries make up a rough parallelo- 
gram, and if we strike out the irregularities as being 
due to the effects of later events, we have remaining a 
fair indication of the site of the Roman camp of early 
London. The practical preservation of these boundaries 
in the ward boundaries is of remarkable significance, 
and it is also significant that the area included within 
them is practically identical with the non-burial area. 
Let us look inside this area. Cannon Street and 

from the town over the river. In 1442 King Henry IV. issued his 
warrant to the mayor of the town of Great Monmouth, commanding him 
to certify to the council of the duchy of Lancaster the names of all 
the burgesses as well within the town aforesaid as within the town of 
Little Monmouth. {Monmouthshire Gazette, February 1850.) It is 
supposed that Little Monmouth had at the time a mayor and a corpora- 
tion of its own ; at all events, though no longer having any powers, a 
mayor of Little Monmouth was until recently appointed, and as late 
as 1832 William Taylor was so described." (Bradney, History of 
Monmouthshire, i. 15-16.) Cf. Leland, Itinerary for Wales, edit. 
Miss Toulmin Smith, 46. 

1 Sir Christopher Wren discovered remains of a morass up as far 
as Cheapside, which he regarded as the northern boundary of the 
early city. {Parentalia, 265.) 


Eastcheap run about the centre of the area from 
west to east, while a whole series of streets cuts this 
central line at right angles, running from north to 
south of the city. All the cross streets not at right 
angles are modern improvements, and this rectangular 
arrangement of the streets of the inner London afford 
still further testimony, I think, to the permanence of 
Roman topography. There is one other fact of 
importance, and that is the position of " London 
Stone " at the western point of this inner area. Much 
has been written about the origin of London Stone, 
and it has always started from the fact that it was 
in the middle of Roman London. I am inclined to 
look at it from its position on the western extremity 
of the first Roman London. 1 If it indicated to Roman 
Londoners of the second city a sacred point remi- 
niscent of the earlier city, its later history would be 
largely accounted for. Its topographical position is 
the first help to such an indication, and when we have 
added the undoubted sacred character attributed to 
it throughout all later history, and of the principal 
features of which I shall have much to say presently, 
the conclusion will, I think, be justified that London 
Stone represents the sentiment of Roman Londoners 
for the early city and camp which was enclosed in 

If we next proceed to examine the external 
territory of the earlier city, we obtain perhaps the 

1 It was removed from its original site in Cannon Street to its present 
locality in the wall of St Swithin's Church towards the close of the 
eighteenth century. {Liber Albus, glossary, iii. 334; Archceologia, xl. 
67; Wren, Parentalia, 265.) For its later history see post, 149-152. 


most significant evidence of all. On the east and 
north - east is the low - lying land indicated by the 
name Fenchurch. On the north, throughout its entire 
length, is the straggling Langbourn ward, which was 
once thought to represent the ditch or moat of the 
ancient camp, and which certainly represents the 
boundary of an external swamp or marsh. On the 
west is Walbrook, a river flowing into the Thames, 
and of considerable width. The western side 
obviously therefore affords the best, if not the only, 
point where such a monument as London Stone 
could be preserved, and it is exactly on this western 
side that another curious fact comes to light, namely, 
that the parish of St Martin has the additional word 
" Pomroy " added to it, the great significance of which 
becomes evident when taken as a factor in the 
argument for the continued memory of the original 
Roman London. It will be best to show this by 
turning to an analogy from another Roman city in 
Britain, namely, Dorchester, which still retains the 
site of its Roman walls, its gates, its Roman shape, 
and its amphitheatre. Outside the western wall 
of this city is an open space, the playground of 
the citizens to this day, which is popularly called 
" The Pummery," and I identify this popular name 
with the more dignified addendum to the saint 
name in London " Pomroy." Is there, then, any 
significance in this name ? I think so, for a Roman 
town was always provided with an unbuilt space 
around it called the Pomcerium, and in the second 
name of the London parish, and the traditional 
name of the Dorchester playground, we have two 


identical relics of the ancient Roman system of 
laying out a city. 1 

The Pomcerium was sacred, and it will be well 
to recall some of its characteristics in the eyes of 
the ancient Romans, for surely it is a remarkable 
coincidence that on the western side of this ancient 
London, we have two relics left to modern times, 
which tell of the earliest ideas of the Romans 
concerning the foundations of their city, namely, 
London Stone and the Pomcerium. The outer 
boundary of the Pomcerium was marked by stones 
set up at intervals (cippi, cippi pomeri, certis spatiis 
interjecti lapides), and this line defined the limit 
within which the auspices in regard to all matters 
regarding the welfare of the city itself (urbana 
auspicia) might be taken. 2 Bearing in mind all that 
this meant in Roman constitutional history and the 
development of ideas associated with the ritual of 
the Terminalia, 3 it is not too much to suggest that 
London Stone may have represented to Roman 
Londoners all the traditional sacredness of the 

1 Mr Alfred White was the first, I think, to suggest the possible 
derivation of the London Pomeroy from the Roman Pomcerium, and so 
good a scholar as Mr Coote (Romans of Britain, 361) accepted it. But 
neither of these authorities had noted the parallel case of Dorchester, 
which adds so much weight to the suggestion. Of course the statement 
that the wards were named after the Aldermen (Liber Aldus, i. 34) 
suggests another derivation, but, on the whole, I do not think the 
suggestion that it is derived from the Pomcerium is shaken. 

a This is described with all necessary references by Ramsay and 
Lanciani (Manual of Roman Antiquities, 6). That every Roman city, 
as daughter to Rome herself, had its own Pomcerium may be gathered 
from the description by Varro of the ceremony of founding a city (v. 143). 

3 Mr Warde Fowler (Roman Festivals, 324-327) has a most admirable 
article on this point. 


earlier London, perhaps marking the entry into the 
inner city from its Pomcerium. In any case the 
western end of this ancient city seems to have pre- 
served in its archaeological remains a suggestion of 
special importance or even of special sanctity, and if 
presently it becomes possible to turn from archaeology 
to custom and recover from this source further 
evidence of the same class of idea, I shall claim 
a cumulative value for the testimony which has been 
preserved to our own days of the conserving force 
which belongs to the inner Roman London. 1 

One small piece of archaeological evidence of the 
fact of an earlier Roman London may be noted from 
the use of old remains for the building of the newer 
city. Thus one of the most remarkable features of 
the southern wall of the city facing the river is that 
many of the large stones which formed the lower 
part were sculptured and ornamented with mould- 
ings denoting their use in the friezes or entablatures 
of edifices, at some period antecedent to the con- 
struction of the wall. Fragments of sculptured 
marble which had also decorated buildings and part 
of the foliage and trellis work of an altar or tomb 
of good workmanship had also been used as build- 
ing materials for the wall. 2 In the bastion of the 
wall excavated in Camomile Street, Bishopsgate, 
there were discovered the figure of a lion in bold 
relief, the head of a human figure of colossal size, 

1 Perhaps Geoffrey of Monmouth preserves an ancient tradition 
connected with the western gate of the first Roman London in the story 
of Cadwello setting up there a brazen horse as a terror unto the Saxons 
(lib. xii. cap. xii.). 

2 Roach Smith, Illustrations of Roman London, 19. 


and a broken statue of a Roman soldier, all embedded 
in the solid masonry of the wall. 1 Other examples 
have been recorded, but these are sufficient to 
illustrate the nature of the evidence. 

I am sure there is enough evidence here to supple- 
ment the researches of archaeologists who have 
laboured so long in their endeavour to find the site 
of the Lundinium which was destroyed by Boudicca. 
It is fragmentary, but it is also cumulative. It takes 
us into regions of research which are not generally 
explored in matters of this kind, but they are regions 
which essentially belong to the subject, and which 
not only tell us of early Lundinium but also some- 
thing of the relationship of early Lundinium to the 
later and better known Lundinium. The greatness 
of the later Lundinium indeed is reflected in the 
still traceable remains of Roman sentiment for a 
spot which contained relics of a Roman life which 
was sacred. 


Later Roman London was the largest Roman city 
in Britain, and came to be called, a.d. 380, in the 
reign of the Emperor Gratian, Lundinium Augusta. 
Though nothing of the walls is now visible, remains 
are frequently excavated. At the beginning of the 
century huge masses with trees growing upon them 
were to be seen opposite what is now Finsbury Circus. 

1 Price, Excavations, 27. 

2 Ammianus Marcellinus, lib. xxvii. cap. viii., "vetus oppidum, quod 
posteritas Augustam appellavit." 


Opposite Sion College, embedded in various places 
and warehouses, and in obscure courts and cellars 
from opposite the Tower to Cripplegate, many blocks 
of the wall masonry still remain. A very important 
section of the wall at Tower Hill was uncovered in 
1852, and revealed the external facing of the Roman 
masonry in very good condition. It is now the side 
wall for stables and outhouses and is quite hidden 
from view. 1 Portions were excavated at Houndsditch 
in 1763. In 1857 excavations on the north-eastern 
side of Aldermanbury Postern laid open a portion 
of the wall. A section was discovered adjoining 
St Martin's Church, Old Bailey, and another beneath 
the premises of Messrs Tylor in Warwick Lane. 
Quite recently Mr Norman and Mr Reader have dis- 
covered portions in New Broad Street, while the vestry 
of All Hallow's Church was proved by the ground 
plan to have been built on the foundation of a 
Roman bastion. Portions of the wall were also 
discovered on the south side of Houndsditch and 
to the east of Jewry Street, and a considerable 
length came to light under sections of Friday Street 
and Knightrider Street. The only section that can 
now be seen, so far as I know, is the bastion in 
Cripplegate Churchyard, and this is probably a 
mediaeval casing of the earlier Roman masonry. 
Enough, however, has been recovered by excavations 
to demonstrate that the mediaeval wall was largely the 
Roman wall, and was wholly on its site. 

The course of this wall can still be traced by 
the aid of modern topographical details, and it is 

1 Roach Smith, Illustrations ', 15. 



significant that the boundaries of the modern pity 
wards are all stopped by the Roman wall. 

Commencing at its eastern end we have to 
eliminate the Tower of London and start from a 
point at the Thames shore in a straight line opposite 
the eastern end of Trinity Mews, above Postern Row. 
A very interesting legal point was based upon this 
very boundary by Lord Coke, who in his Institutes 
says : 

"The Ancient Wall of London extendeth through the 
Tower ; all that which is on the West part of the wall is 
within the City namely in the Parish of All Saints, 
Barking, in the ward of the Tower ; and all that is on the 
east part of the wall is in the county of Middlesex." l 

The liberty of the precinct of the Tower is 
bounded on part of its eastern side by the line of 
the Roman wall skirting Trinity Mews. From thence 
the wall follows the eastern boundary of the Tower 
ward and then follows the boundary of Aldgate 
ward, at the back of the Minories and across John 
Street, George Street, and Aldgate, where an interest- 
ing deflection in the boundary of the ward denotes 
the site of the gate. The wall next bends west- 
ward with the boundary of Aldgate ward, proceeding 
at the south of Houndsditch along the north side 
of Duke Street, and then north of Bevis Marks and 
Camomile Street. The wall then proceeds with the 
boundary of Bishopsgate ward across Bishopsgate 
Street, where the gate stood, then north of Wormwood 
Street. Thence it proceeds with the boundary of 
Broad Street ward along the centre of the street 

1 Coke, histitutes, 1797, iii. 135. 


called London Wall. At this point a curious thing 
happens. Coleman Street ward crosses the line of 
the wall, and takes in the whole of a square area 
enclosing Finsbury Circus beyond the wall, but 
when the boundary of Cripplegate ward begins it 
again follows the line of the Roman wall. Cripplegate 
ward has a curious long narrow strip of territory 
which takes in the site of the wall and nothing 
further. At the point where stood Cripplegate the 
ward of Farringdon begins, and its boundary follows 
exactly the line of the wall, turning off at right 
angles towards the south, and showing no less than 
three bastions along its course from Cripplegate 
Church to Falcon Square. Here is Castle Street, 
a very significant name in this connection. Below 
Falcon Square, just opposite Oat Lane, the wall turns 
again in the direction of east to west, and follows 
the boundary of Aldersgate ward and of Farringdon 
ward within to a point in Christ's Hospital grounds 
(now unfortunately built over), where it again turns 
sharply southwards towards the river. The northern 
boundary of Farringdon ward appears to extend 
slightly beyond the line of the wall, but the ditch 
or moat outside the wall was, until the year 1903, 
commemorated in the school grounds of Christ's 
Hospital by a drain course known as the "town- 
ditch." The wall proceeds along the ward boundary 
at the back of the Old Bailey and crosses Ludgate 
at the point where the old gate stood. From this 
gate to the Thames the ward boundary is not 
followed, the wall crossing the space now occupied 
by the Times printing office and turning south at 


St Andrew's Church and proceeding thence along 
Thames Street to the Tower. 

The agreement of the existing external boundaries 
of the wards with the ancient boundaries of Roman 
London is therefore very close. There are also 
remarkable topographical features. Throughout the 
greater extent on the north and east the precise line 
of the wall is indicated by the streets which flank 
the inner side, and which have obviously been formed 
and regulated in reference to the wall. Thus through- 
out what is called London Wall, the houses of the 
north side stand upon the lower courses of the Roman 
wall, or upon the site where the masonry has been 
wholly removed, and a person may walk from Cripple- 
gate to Tower Hill upon the pavement of streets, and 
with some few breaks keep close to the line of the 
ancient wall throughout the entire distance. This is 
easily explained by the ground immediately adjoining 
the inner side of the wall in the Roman times having 
been left open and having continued unoccupied by 
houses a long time subsequent. At Rutland Place the 
existence of a flight of twenty steps is to be explained 
by no other cause than that of subterranean masonry 
upon which the houses have been partly built, as at 
Colchester, where precisely the same peculiarities exist, 
and where they admit of being more clearly understood. 1 

Now an important fact remains to be noted, 
namely, that the city of London, including the 
liberties, or the districts into which the municipal 
franchises and privileges extend, is divided into two 
portions — London Within the Walls, and London 

1 Roach Smith, Roman London, 18. 


Without the Walls, or the liberties. The origin of 
the distinction between London Within the Walls 
and London Without the Walls is said to be that 
London Without the Walls consisted of that portion 
of the ground outside the walls which was necessary 
for the protection of the city. The jurisdiction of 
the corporation had to extend beyond the walls of 
the city, or else the city would never have been 
safe from a hostile attack, and it is said that a con- 
sideration of the map of the city of London will show 
that all the liberties without the walls are places where 
the walls have been accessible or liable to attack ; for 
instance, Farringdon Without extends up to Temple 
Bar, which was the high ground opposite to Ludgate, 
the gate at the top of Ludgate Hill. Cripplegate 
Without was the same. There were walls and a 
bastion and open ground in front of it. There the 
liberty extends as far as would have been necessary 
for the general purposes of defence. Aldersgate 
Wards Within and Without are under the same 
circumstances ; but when one goes further round the 
city and comes to the river, one finds there is no 
liberty Without, because there was no wall — the 
River itself being a protection. As a further illustra- 
tion, in Coleman Street ward there is no liberty, 
because it borders upon the moor which surrounded 
that part of London. Again, when the moor is 
passed, on the other side there is Bishopsgate Without, 
which was where the road passed out to the Bishop 
of London's lands at a distance from the town. 1 The 

1 See Evidence of Mr Serjeant Merewether, Report of Royal Com- 
mission on City of London, 1854, 418. 


bars are the entrances to the ancient unwalled liberties 
and the gates are the entrances to the ancient walled 

Noting that these facts are related in the terms 
applicable to mediaeval London let me point out that 
the extramural tract is a trace of Roman London — 
the Pomcerium in fact, or sacred unbuilt ring of land, 
surrounding the city, which, as I have already pointed 
out, existed in connection with early Roman London, 
and was an important feature of Roman cities. 1 

This is material evidence enough of Roman 
London and there are but few other points to note. 
The internal arrangements of the city cannot be 
restored even by the aid of the shovel and pickaxe. 
Remains have been found which betoken a com- 
paratively high state of wealth and prosperity, and 
it is thought that Leadenhall Market, standing as 
it does on a site formerly occupied by a basilica 
whose foundation walls were 12 feet thick, 130 feet 
long, and 40 feet apart, with a circular apse at the 
southern end, and which has ever since been public 
property, 2 might mark the site of the Roman forum, 
and that St Pauls might mark the site of a Roman 
temple. Certainly the relics found underneath 
Leadenhall Market, solid relics of important build- 
ings, support the conjecture as to this place, and 
such archaeological remains are of considerable 
importance to students of institutions. Some of the 

1 The principal burial-place of later Roman London was in the 
present Spitalfields, where Stow witnessed important excavations. 
{Survey of London, Thorns' edit. 64.) Stow says it was called of old 
time Lolesworth. See also Archceologia, xxxi. 309. 

2 Archceologia, xlviii. 22$. 


cross streets running at right angles to those running 
from east to west are probably on Roman founda- 
tions. 1 Formerly the north and north-eastern traffic 
went either by Gracechurch Street to Tottenham by 
the old Roman road, or, starting from east to west, it 
left the city by one of the western gates, Ludgate or 
Newgate, and thence by St John Street to the north. 
There was no break in the city wall between Alders- 
gate and Newgate, and the large block of ground 
without carriage - way about Austin Friars is a 
consequence of the Roman wall affording no passage. 
These are relics of the ground plan of Roman 
London which justify the archaeologist in stating that 
"it is remarkable how the Roman wall (only passed 
by a few gates) and the street plans laid down by 
the Roman road surveyor turn even modern city 
traffic in the old directions," 2 and perhaps these 
words fitly complete my account of the internal 
portions of the city. 3 

But what of the connection between the city 
and the outside territory ? Always outside a Roman 
city there was an amphitheatre, where brutal sports 
and fights were exhibited, where the people in fact 
held their public shows. The remains of the amphi- 
theatres at Dorchester and Silchester can be seen 
in remarkable preservation. The position of the 
London amphitheatre has never been placed, but I 
have an interesting suggestion to make. On the 
Southwark side of London, where the Roman 

1 See ArchcFologia, xxxiii. 102-103, for interesting details on this point. 

2 Mr Alfred Tylor in Archaologia, xlviii. 226-227. 

3 The Roman remains of London have been topographically 
catalogued by Mr J. E. Trice in Archcsological Review, i. 274-281, 355-361. 


residential town had extended, is a place still called 
the Bear Garden. It is now an octagonal space 
built round with houses. But this octagonal space 
is derived from a previous octagonal building, which 
stood there in Tudor times, and was one of the 
theatres of that age. Thus this site is connected 
with shows for a period of time which takes us back 
to the Southwark of green fields. Then its name 
Bear Garden shows it to have been the place for 
the sport of bear baiting, and this carries us back 
centuries. 1 Beyond that there is no record until we 
come to a very singular and interesting class of relic, 
discovered on this site a few years ago, namely, some 
gladiator's tridents. 2 These tridents were used by 
one class of the Roman gladiators in the amphitheatre, 
where they fought for the amusement of the people. 
The trident was a sort of three-pointed lance with 
which the conqueror despatched his adversary, after 
having entangled him in a net which, with the trident, 
formed the weapons of this class of gladiator. I 
cannot help looking at the continuity of use expressed 
in these facts, and in the modern octagonal group 
of houses known as the Bear Garden, I think we 
have the last remnants of the amphitheatre of 
Roman London. 3 

Of more consequence to us is the constitutional 

1 Mr Fairman Ordish, in his Early London Theatres, cap. v., deals 
with the amphitheatres which were located on the Southwark side. 

2 Brit. Arch. Assoc, xxii. 305-312. 

3 An important parallel to this evidence is provided by Cirencester, 
where the remains and site of the Roman amphitheatre were well 
known, were used in later times and were then known as "the bull 
ring." {History of Cirencester, 1800, 69.) The comparison of the facts 
of Cirencester with the theory as to London is an important aid. 


connection between the city and the surrounding 
country. The territorium of the city was its special 
property, and it extended as far as the limits of the 
territorium of the nearest Roman city, or as near 
thereto as the natural boundaries of forest swamps or 
other features allowed. It is impossible, of course, 
to trace in detail the boundaries of the territorium 
now, but there may be points on the line which for 
one reason or another have become distinguished 
and it will be sufficient if we can trace out any such 
points. Beginning with the south, there is the 
important district of Southwark, which was probably 
only a residential extension of the city by means of 
its bridge. If the territorium of London extended 
as far south as to meet the territorium of the nearest 
Roman town, namely, Durobrivis (Rochester), the 
actual point of contact may be discovered by a fact 
brought out by the Saxon conquest. The Jutes 
landed in a.d. 449 or 450, at the instance of the 
British King, Vortigern. Every one knows the 
story. They first helped the British against the 
Picts and then turned against them. Attacking 
Durovernum (our Canterbury), they left it a blackened 
and solitary ruin, and marched onwards along the 
road which led to London. At our Aylesford was 
fought a great battle, in which the invaders lost one 
of their chiefs, Horsa. Then Hengist assumed a 
sterner and more organised position. He claimed 
the kingdom, and marching with his son, Ella, further 
into Kent, he met the British force at the passage of 
the Cray, a comparatively small stream, even at that 
date. Their victory was complete, for the Britons, 


Showing the indications and extent 
of the ancient territorium according 
to the modern map of London. 


as the Saxon Chronicle tells us, " forsook Kent-land 
and fled with much fear to London." 

I pause at this point. The British who fought 
at the ford of the Cray fled to London ; and the 
question is, what was London to them ? If we note 
that the river Cray was the southern boundary of 
the Londoners' right of chase in the Middle Ages, 
and if we bear in mind that the charter of Henry I. 
alludes to these rights as based upon ancient custom, 
it seems reasonable to suggest that the Cray repre- 
sented the boundary point of the territorium of Roman 
London. The men who fought at this boundary, and 
who on defeat fled to London, were then defending the 
territorium of London at its furthest point, and were 
therefore the armed force of the Roman city. With- 
out in any way exaggerating the facts as they appear 
in the ancient records, this appears to me the first 
great battle fought by British London for her own 
political position as a Roman city. 1 It is significant 
that the name of the British leader at this important 
battle is not mentioned, although it was the time when 
both Vortimer and Aurelius Ambrosius were opposing 
the Saxons, and I think the circumstances point to the 
fact that it was not the tribal army of the British who 
fought at Crayford, but the army of London, or at all 
events that the army of London took the lead and 
was the centre of the fight. The remains at Crayford 
of the Roman period are very plentiful, and there is 
a remarkable mound which may mark the boundary 

1 Mr Green supports the view that the Cray may have been the 
southern boundary of the Roman territorium of London {Making of 
England, y]\ but he does not see the significance of this in connection 
with the great battle there with Hengist. 



point. 1 But, be this as it may, we have here fairly 
reasonable evidence that Crayford was the southern 
limit of the territorium of London. 

This conclusion as to the southern boundary 
enables us to go a step further in the question of 
the territorium boundaries, and we turn to the eastern 
side. There is evidence of a decided character that 
the boundary between modern Middlesex and modern 
Essex was also a Roman boundary, for Old Ford was 
an outpost which marked a point of importance, and 
nothing so important could have arisen as the structure 
which divided the territorium of Lundinium from its 
neighbour. Of Roman remains at Old Ford there is 
ample evidence — burials, coins, and urns being the 
chief objects, 2 and it is just possible that the attempt 
in mediaeval days to make Old Ford a sort of trading 
boundary for London may rest upon some remini- 
scence of more ancient conditions. 3 

1 " Overlooking the source of the river Cray on the western side towers 
a remarkable circular-topped mount, formerly covered with trees. Pass- 
ing by it we were informed by a native of the locality that it was termed 
'The Fairy Mount,' and that he remembered an old man who averred 
that in his younger days, before Mr Joynson's tall chimneys enlightened 
the neighbourhood, he had seen fairies come out of the side of the hill 
and dance upon the summit. Our informant further added that the 
geological formation was very peculiar, gravel rock on the top, sand 
beneath. The name of the field in which this eminence is situated bears 
the evidently Celtic appellation of Bud Perry. A short distance from the 
Fairy Mount is High Field, the site of a Roman burial-place." (Dunkin, 
Archceological Mine, ii. 55-56.) I do not know whether any philological 
significance attaches to the name " Bud Perry." If it is in any way 
connected with Kaer Buddai or Fuddai, one of the Nennius list of 
cities, it would be interesting. 

2 Archceologia, xxxi. 310 ; Numismatic Chronicle, N.S. vi. 304-306. 

3 An order of 45 Edward III., 1371, constitutes " Stretteford on the 
one side and Knyghtebrugge on the other side," as places for the 
slaughter of cattle. (Riley, Memorials of London, 257.) The connection 


We will next to the west. Knightsbridge was an 
important point, for we read that " upon the King 
(1257) approaching Westminster the Mayor and 
citizens went forth to salute him, as the usage is, as 
far as Kniwtebrigge." 1 Beyond Knightsbridge, 
however, is Staines, which marks the boundary of 
the city's ancient rights in Middlesex and on the 
Thames. 2 Now Staines had a special connection 
with London, for a charter of King Eadward grants 
to Westminster Abbey the "cotlif" of Staines with 
the land called " Staeningehaga " within London. 3 
Professor Maitland makes the acute suggestion 
that in the names Staining Lane and the parish of 
St Mary Staining we have the means of identifying 
the locality of Staininghaw. 4 Of course Mr Maitland 
adds this to his other evidence of manorial holdings 
in the country being connected with the burgh for 
purposes of keeping up the defences of the burghal 
stronghold, and though I do not follow him entirely 
in his arguments for the adaptation of the burghal 
system to all places, London included, I think the 
special connection of London with Staines is revealed 
by this grant. I would hazard the suggestion that 
this special connection is repeated in two other 
significant cases, in the case of Bow, for which we 
have the parish of St Mary-le-Bow in the city, 

with Knightsbridge renders this entry of special importance. Riley 
notes other important transactions at Stratford-le-Bow, which help 
towards the idea of a special relationship to the city. 

1 Chronicles of London, 34. 2 See Eng. Hist. Rev. xvii. 485. 

3 Kemble, Cod. Dip. iv. 211. 

4 Domesday and Beyond, 181 ; Cf. Coote, Romans of Britain, 378. 
There is also the parish of All Hallows Staining. 


and in the case of Crayford, for which we have the 
parish of St Katharine Cree in the city. The 
connection thus discovered for three out-stations of 
the territorium boundary must point very strongly 
to something older than the burghal stronghold. It 
is only necessary to add that Staines was the Roman 
Pontes on the road between London and Silchester, 
and we have all the information available for the 
western parallel to that which we have found on the 
east and south. 

Let us finally turn to the northern side of the 
territorium. The nearest Roman city to London on 
the north is Verulam, and it happens that there is an 
important topographical feature, the history of which 
illustrates the point we are discussing. This feature 
is the so-called barrow on Hampstead Heath. It 
has been the subject of several traditions and much 
speculation. 1 But one point stands out most clearly, 
namely, that this barrow was connected with both 
London and St Albans. This is contained in a 
legend recorded by Howitt as follows : 

" In very early times the inhabitants of St Albans, who 
aspired to make the town the capital of this part of England, 
finding London growing a vigorous rival, set out to attack 
and destroy it ; but the Londoners turning out met and 
defeated their enemies of St Albans on this spot, and this 
mound contains the dust of the slain." 2 

Now I agree with Professor Hales in his attempt 
to elucidate this tradition, that 

1 I fear I have contributed to this speculation in company with 
Professor Hales, Mr Elliot Stock, and others. See Athenczutn, 17th 
November and 1st December 1883. 

8 Howitt, Northern Heights of London, 329-330. 


" traditions are always from one point or another worth 
regarding. If they do nothing else they may illustrate 
some side of the popular mind, some tendency of it, or 
superstition or odd way of understanding things. But 
undoubtedly they are sometimes based on historical fact." 

But I part company with him when he proceeds to 
elucidate the battle theory. In the first place, the 
barrow itself disproves it, for its excavation in 1894, 
by the London County Council, revealed no evidence 
whatever of any burial or cremation use. It did, 
however, reveal something far more important. Thus 
the excavations showed — ( 1 ) black masses as the centre 
was approached indicating the presence of charcoal 
at varying depths from 3 to 5 feet from the upper 
surface ; (2) as nearly as possible in the true centre 
of the mound an irregular hole or pocket, the top 
of which was 6 feet 6 inches from the upper surface, 
and extending downwards for about 18 inches ; (3) char- 
coal apparently vegetable from the tiny fragments 
of carbonised wood remaining in it in the hole or 
pocket. 1 There was absolutely no trace of any burial 
or any of the associations of a burial. Now noting 
one further point of Mr Read's excellently full report, 
that the hole or pocket was made on the ground level 
and that consequently the barrow was heaped up 
over it, I will turn to a description of the Roman 
botontinus, a mound erected by the agrimensorial 
surveyors to fix the bounds of the territorium. Mr 
Coote supplies me with the exact words : 

" On the ground which should form the base upon which 

1 Minutes of London County Council, 27th November 1894, and Report 
of Mr C. H. Read to the Council. 


these mounds and hillocks would be subsequently heaped 
the agrimensores deposited charcoal, broken pottery, gravel, 
pebbles brought from a distance, lime, ashes, pitched oaken 
stakes — all things which upon a subsequent excavation of 
the mound would demonstrate that the hand of man had 
placed them there to serve with their surroundings as a 
token of something more abstruse." 1 

No closer parallel could be obtained, and the con- 
clusion is inevitable that the Hampstead barrow is 
a Roman botontinus. If the evidence is correctly 
translated up to this point I am entitled to turn 
back to the Howitt tradition to supply the names 
of the places of which it was the boundary mark, 
and that these should be London and St Albans 
seems to me to be conclusive. The purpose of 
the tradition is thus fulfilled. Barrows and battles, 
in the popular mind, are naturally connected, and 
from this connection the late form of the tradition 
would be framed, thereby ousting the older form 
which would have related to the boundary. What 
has not been destroyed is the relationship of the 
barrow to the two cities of Verulamium and 
Lundinium, the only effective relationship being that 
of a boundary mark between the territorium of the 
two cities, 2 and that this boundary mark was not 
placed much further north is accounted for by the 

1 Rofnans of Britain, 70-73, and the notes to the necessary authorities. 
At pp. ioo-iii Mr Coote gives examples in England. Professor Hales 
accepted this view in an article on the barrow in Middlesex and Hertford- 
shire Notes and Queries, i. 6-1 1 (1905), but I had previously advanced 
this view in the Times of 13th November 1894. 

3 It is noticeable that a hitherto unprinted charter of ^Ethelred to 
Westminster, anno 986, contains the boundaries of land at Hampstead, 
and one point in the boundary is " the barrow." (Lond. and Middlesex 
Arch. Soc. vi. 560.) 


existence of the great forest which in Roman days 
was impenetrable. 

There are thus revealed important points in the 
boundary of the territorium of London, points con- 
nected with the territoria of the nearest cities, north, 
east, south, and west — Verulam, Camulodunum, 
Durobrivae, and Calleva ; and it would be well to 
see if, in addition to the boundaries, there is evidence 
to illustrate the filling in of the internal parts of the 
territorium with remains of its Roman administration 
or history. 

Difficult as it must be to discover such evidence, 
I think it can be shown to exist, and I will turn 
first to the rights of the city to certain collective 
powers over extra-mural territory of wide extent, an 
extent so wide as to reveal its non-English origin. 
In a.d. 912, after the Danish invasion and the 
disastrous events which followed, we still read in 
the Chronicle of King E ad ward taking possession 
of London, "and of all the lands which belonged 
thereto " 1 — which surely gives us a glimpse of 
London in its Roman garb with dominion over the 
territorium around it. 2 In the significant entry in 
the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle of the year 1097, we can > 
I think, recognise another phase of the same rights. 

1 Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, anno 912. "Eadweard cyning feng to 
Lunden byrig ] to oxnaforda ] to eallum pam landum pe j>asr to hyrdon." 

2 I do not think this meant the mere headship of London over 
kingdoms or shires in which it was situated, though I admit that 
the inclusion of Oxford is difficult to understand. But in any case the 
inclusion of Oxford does not assist the idea of headship, as distinct from 
dominion, for both cities seem to have been included in the same 
southern district. See Chad wick, Studies on the Anglo-Saxon Consti- 
tution, 207. 


" Many shires also which belonged to London for work 
were sorely harassed by the wall that they wrought around 
the Tower, and by the bridge which had been nearly washed 
away, and by the work of the king's hall that was wrought 
at Westminster " : 1 

" Shires which belonged to London for work " is 
a significant entry. We need not interpret shire to 
mean the constitutional shire, the county, but 
rather the regional shire or district which occurs so 
frequently in history. 

These fragments from the tenth and eleventh 
centuries may be added together as evidence that the 
dominion of London over the lands around it belongs 
to a system of city government which is Roman. 
This dominion was, however, not entirely lost, though 
its Roman character vanished. In later historical days 
there are fragments of the old dominion still remaining. 
Perhaps the twelfth century limits for foreign trade 
direct us to the regional district of the city, for they 
relate to points already noted in a similar connection, 
namely, Startfford (no doubt Stratford - le - Bow), 
Sandford, Knightsbridge (over the Bayswater rivulet, 
sometimes called the West Bourne), and the Balk 
Tree, some boundary mark presumably on the 
eastern side of the city. 2 Something even more 
telling than this is to be derived from the simple 
name of Mile End, now applied to one of the 
East London parishes, for, if I mistake not, it 
contains one of the surest signs of Roman 

1 It is important to adopt Mr Maitland's translation, for Thorpe 
substituted scipan, ships, for sciran. See Maitland, Domesday and 
Beyond, 192 ; Thorpe, Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, ii. 202. 

2 Miss Bateson in Eng. Hist. Rev. xvii. 497. 


dominion over the extramural territory of London 
having lasted beyond Roman times, and having been 
translated by post- Roman language and history. At 
Rome, and because at Rome, therefore at every 
other colony or municipality in the Roman empire 
founded upon the model of the mother city, the 
military jurisdiction of the consul could not be 
asserted without appeal ; beyond Rome it could be so 
asserted, and the limit between the two spheres, the 
imperium domi and the imperium militia, was 
originally not the city walls but the Pomcerium 
beyond the walls, and then later still the first mile- 
stone beyond the city — neque provocationem esse 
longius ab urbe mille passuum} This consular juris- 
diction included the pronouncement of the death 
sentence, and it is therefore perfectly reasonable to 
suppose that the " mile-end" from the city assumed 
an important place in local history. 

Now let me turn to the Mile End of London. 
Mile End Bar was exactly one mile from Aldgate, 
the eastern gate of the city commanding the Roman 
road to Colchester and the eastern parts of Britain. 
It was the place where the citizens assembled in 
arms, 2 and it was a place of execution. 3 Here, then, 
are all the essential features of the Roman mile - end 
jurisdiction of the consuls reproduced in the London 

1 Livy, iii. 20. See Greenidge {Roman Public Life, 79) for a full 
description of this interesting point in Roman city life. 

2 Liber de Antiq. Leg. 7. A vivid description of this in 1381 is 
printed in Riley's Memorials of London, 449. 

3 Nicolas, Chronicle of London (fifteenth century), 7$. A field at 
Mile End, known as " Hangman's Acre," is marked on Gascoyne's map 
of London, 1647. 


mile-end, and the twofold association of military and 
criminal matters cannot be an accidental parallel. 

These are interesting fragments enough ; and in 
the celebrated charter granted by Henry I. we have 
the case, as it were, summed up. This charter con- 
firms to the city of London the county of Middlesex 
in fee farm. 1 Such a grant as this points to much 
more than a king's favour, even if we take into 
account Henrys peculiar position, and the actual 
evidence of ancient rights claimed by the citizens is 
contained in the clause, "and the citizens of London 
may have their chaces to hunt as well and fully as 
their ancestors have had!' 2 This appeal to ancestral 
usage, of course, takes us behind the Norman con- 
quest, and behind the Anglo-Saxon rule also, for 
there is nothing in Anglo-Saxon institutions to which 
it can be referred. 

Perhaps finally we may ascertain the means by 
which dominion over the territorium passed away 
from the city. This may be found, I think, in the 
possessions of the church of London. We have 
already noted that church organisation entered into 
the settlement of Britain after the withdrawal of 
Roman imperial government, and later on, I shall 
produce examples of wholesale grants to the church 
of the territorial lands of Roman cities. 3 Applying 

1 On this important subject Mr Round's note on " The Early 
Administration of London," in his Geoffrey of Mandevillc, 347-373 
should be studied. As Mr Round puts it, " Middlesex was never separate 
from London." 

2 The citizens fought for this right strenuously. See the case quoted 
in Riley's Memorials of London, 28. 

3 See post, 213, 214, 223. 


this evidence to the great estates of St Paul's massed 
round London, and the titles to which are lost in 
antiquity, 1 the conclusion is irresistible that these 
estates are portions of the civic territorium of Roman 
London which passed to the church as part of the 
new governing organisation in process of formation 
when the Roman organisation of the city was break- 
ing up before the English invaders. 

The appeal to Roman origins in all these matters 
amounts in the aggregate to something substantial. 
There are remains of the internal Roman organisation 
in the interior area of almost sacred significance, with 
relics of its western entrance at London Stone and 
its western pomcerium ; in the walls which enclosed 
Lundinium Augusta ; in the streets crossing in regular 
lines from north to south and east to west ; in the 
forum at Leadenhall and the temple at St Paul's ; 
and in the gates. There are remains of the external 
organisation in the amphitheatre, the pomcerium, the 
imperium militiae, and the territorium. All this is so 
much more significant when considered collectively. 
Taken separately, each item might appear compara- 
tively trifling and might be questioned. Taken 
collectively, the items assume a new importance, and 
each one is supported by the others. They stand 
for further enquiry as to their history during the 
period when Roman imperial organisation had ceased 
in Britain. 

1 Hale, Domesday of St Paul's, iii. 


Now, undoubtedly, in these facts we have a Roman 
London which appears to have lasted beyond Roman 
times and Government. It had to meet the tide of 
Anglo-Saxon conflict and settlement, and we know 
quite well that the fight at Crayford, disastrous as 
it was to the Londoners, did not end the struggle. 
I do not think authorities have quite understood the 
position. They see things from the purely English 
view, they assume the conquest of London because 
they perceive that London took its share in English 
history, and they do not stay to ask what that share 
was, and whence it was derived. The answer to 
these questions can only be obtained by a complete 
reconsideration of the facts. 

It is impossible to imagine that London could 
have kept on being Roman in constitution, in popula- 
tion, in government, in all essentials of citizen life, 
while everything outside was being made English. 
As a matter of fact, we know it was not so. It took 
its part in English politics, and a great part too ; it 
took its share in English war, and a great part too ; 
everywhere in Anglo-Saxon times the city of London 
looms out big and powerful, too big and too powerful 
to have been the outcome of Saxon influences, an 
institution of Saxon origin ; but it was there, and 
the question is, how may the facts be accounted for ? 



They are not accounted for by any of the most 
prominent of later English historians. They read 
into the silence of history as to the fate of Roman 
London at the hands of Saxon conquerors, and as to 
its position under Saxon rule, not only its conquest 
but its utter desolation for a time as the result of 
that conquest. 1 I read that silence otherwise. 
There is admittedly no direct evidence of conquest, 
no evidence of utter desolation, and there appears to 
be the exact contrary to conquest and desolation in all 
the indirect evidence. Mr Green has been the most 
elaborate in his summing up of the position, as he 
understands it, of London under Saxon rule. 2 He 
confesses that it is hard to imagine "how all traces 
of the municipal institutions to which the Roman 
towns clung so obstinately should have so utterly 
disappeared," and I shall now proceed with the 
evidence which shows that this alleged disappear- 
ance is not borne out by the facts. 

There are very few facts to help us to any 
conclusion, and Mr Green begins with the earliest. 
In 616 Beda records that the Londoners would not 
receive Bishop Mellitus, 

"choosing rather to be under their idolatrous high priests, 
for King Eadbald had not so much authority as his father, 
nor was he able to restore the bishop against the will and 
consent of the pagans " (ii. 6). 

1 The words of Gildas are significant enough, and tell no doubt of 
the general rule — " miserabili visu in medio platearum ima turrium edito 
cardine evulsarum murorumque celsorum saxa, sacra altaria, cadaverum 
frustra, crustis ac si gelantibus purperei cruoris tecta, velut in quodam 
horrendo torculari mixta viderentur," p. 56 of the Cymmrodorion edition. 

2 Green, Conquest of England^ 452-466. 


Mr Green argues that this implies the reign of 
Anglo - Saxon paganism in place of an uprooted 
Romano - British Christianity. The argument is a 
good one, and if it fitted in with the facts from other 
sources it would be difficult to resist its force. But 
as it does not fit in with other facts we may seek 
for an explanation which may, perhaps, be more in 
accordance with them. Of course, the obvious 
question to raise is, was the Christianity of London 
of so firm and orthodox a character that fifty years 
after the domination of the Anglo-Saxon conquerors 
of Britain the only form of paganism which could 
have been set up against Christianity was Teutonic 
paganism ? The Celtic Church in Britain was not 
under the domination of the Latin pope as were 
Christian churches in other parts of Europe, and 
probably Dubhthach was right when he said that 
the adoption of Christian customs by a Celtic tribe 
was " the strengthening of paganism." 1 Mr Willis- 
Bund has produced enough evidence to show how 
thoroughly pagan in form was early Celtic Chris- 
tianity, and if this evidence is to be restricted more 
to the tribes than to the Romano- British cities, more 
to the Celts than to the successors of the Romans, 
we may still fall back upon the despairing cry of 
Gildas, who tells so plainly the story of pagan 
revival after the departure of the Romans. In any 
case there is enough evidence on the other side to 
suggest that the Londoners' paganism may as well 
have been a paganism of their own as a paganism 

1 Willis-Bund, Celtic Church of Wales, 22. 


due to Teutonic influences, 1 and if we cannot see 
Teutonic influences elsewhere we are not bound to 
see them here. 

There is also direct evidence against the theory 
of a Teutonic religion having been established in 
London. The Romans paid great respect to the 
local divinities of their conquered territory, and there 
are many evidences of this, including some British 
examples. 2 It accounts, I venture to think, for the 
continuance and the development of the worship of 
Lud, the god of the waters. The chief characteristics 
of this worship have been explained by Professor 
Rhys, 3 but he has neglected to explain its abnormal 
development. The worship he describes as parallel 
on the Thames and Severn could not have been 
wholly a Celtic worship. The tribes who dwelt and 
worshipped on the Thames were the Trinovantes 
and those who dwelt and worshipped on the Severn 
were the Silures. There was no territorial or 
political connection between them, and the national 
aspect of this worship could not have originated 
among the independent tribes of Celtic Britain. If 
we grant, however, that Rome took over the local 
gods of the two great rivers — the Thames and the 
Severn — we not only account for the apparent 
nationalisation of the water cult, but we account 

1 Mr Willis-Bund's book is most useful in this respect, and the student 
should be acquainted with its important bearing on this question. Mr 
Williams, in his edition of Gildas for the Cymmrodorion Society, has a 
useful note summarising the evidence for the point of view I have 
advanced. See p. 22, note 2. 

2 Squire, Mythology of the British Islands^ 275, 399. 

3 Celtic Heathendom, 1 2 5- 1 33. 


for its continuance in such a Roman centre as 
London, and the preservation of the god-name in 
our modern Ludgate. But this is not all. St Paul's 
has always been connected with recollections of the 
worship of Diana at a temple formerly standing on 
its site. A statue to Diana was found between the 
Deanery and Blackfriars, and in 1830, in excavating 
for the foundations of Goldsmith's Hall in Foster 
Lane, was found a stone altar to Diana. 1 These 
finds dispose of Wren's objections to the credibility of 
the report, dating from Edward III., that an " incredible 
quantity " of skulls of animals, including stag horns, 
had been found on the site of the cathedral itself, and 
I cannot but connect these remains with a remarkable 
church custom which lasted down to comparatively 
recent times. Camden thus describes it : 

" Some have imagined that a temple of Diana formerly 
stood here [St Paul's], and when I was a boy I have seen 
a stag's head fixed upon a spear (agreeably enough to the 
sacrifice of Diana) and conveyed about within the church 
with great solemnity and sounds of horns. And I have 
heard that the stag which the family of Bawd, in Essex, 
were bound to pay for certain lands, used to be received 
at the steps of the church by the priests in their sacerdotal 
robes and with garlands of flowers on their heads. Certain 
it is this ceremony savours more of the worship of Diana 
and of Gentile errours than of the Christian religion." 2 

1 Milman, History of St PauPs, 5, 7 ; Malcolm, Londinium Redi- 
vivum, iii. 509 ; Archer, Vestiges of Old London, contains a description 
of the altar, with an illustration. 

2 Camden, Britannia, by Gough, ii. 81 ; cf. Stow's account of a 
similar ceremony in his Survey (Thorns' edit.) 125 ; also Milman, History 
of St PauPs, 3-8. As to the sacrifice of stags to Diana, see Mr A. B. 


Camden's dictum is undoubtedly correct, and in 
this remarkable survival we have, I think, the required 
evidence as to Roman worship in London. In any 
case it disposes of Mr Green's assumption of a 
Teutonic paganism as the enemy of the Christianity 
of Bishop Mellitus, for the surviving Romano- 
Celtic beliefs are there to stand out for a London 
paganism of the Roman type, and there is nothing 
of a distinctly Teutonic type to set against them. 
We cannot dispose of survivals and archaeological 
finds of this description at the mere bidding of a 
modern authority. From this point Mr Green's 
argument is ingenious rather than convincing. The 
building of St Paul's, the erection of other early 
Christian churches, are taken to indicate that the 
land was open land, uninhabited and unused, but 
these churches may have been adapted from the yet 
undestroyed Roman buildings, or may have been 
erected on their sites. After this stage Mr Green 
passes on to later Saxon history, and here he is 
on surer and more reliable ground, though it does 
not belong to events with which I am at present 

I think, too, Mr Loftie, in stating what he calls the 
negative evidence, has wholly missed the importance 
of London. He assumes too much in stating that 

Cook on the cult of the stag in Jour. Hell. Studies, xiv. 134. It is 
noteworthy that the Gauls are specially mentioned as sacrificing to 
Artemis or Diana (Grimm, Teutonic Mythology, iv. 1592), and perhaps 
it is worth mentioning that one feature of the cult of Artemis connects 
her with a water ceremony. (Ibid. 1365.) For other examples of stag 
ceremonies connected with church worship, see Dr Karl Pearson, 
Chances of Death, ii. 19, 64. 



London was a source of weakness to the Essex 
kings. There is the first question to ask, was it 
in the hands of the Essex kings? I think not. I 
think the Essex kings used it whenever it was 
necessary, and left it whenever they could do so 
safely 1 just as the Kentish kings did, and as the 
Mercian kings did. 2 To a great extent, this was 
the policy of the Anglo-Saxon kings throughout and 
few things are more remarkable than this almost 
uniform method of neglecting London, treating it 
as a factor not of importance, giving it no place in 
the Anglo-Saxon system, treating it as belonging 
to Essex, to Kent, or to Mercia, according to the 
prevailing influence of the time. 

A position more definite was only accorded to 
it in the ninth century by the greatest of all the 
Saxon kings, Alfred, who for the first time used 
it as the basis of military operation. He repaired 
the walls and took ample measures for its defence. 8 
After his glorious reign the country was subjected 
to war and rapine at the hands of the Danes, and 

1 Beda's allusion to it as the metropolis of the East Saxons — quorum 
metropolis Londonia civitas est (ii. 3) — surely refers to its ecclesiastical 
not its political status, and Mr Plummer's note on the title of Cedd 
bishop of the East Saxons (ii. 178) confirms this view. Beda's descrip- 
tion of Earconwald, as having been appointed bishop of the East Saxons 
in London (iv. 6), " orientalibus Saxonibus . . . Earconwaldum constituit 
episcopum in civitate Londonia? is also to the point. 

2 Mr Kemble (Saxons in England, ii. 333) is inclined to concede this 
point, and see Freeman, English Towns and Districts, 398. 

' William of Malmesbury makes this new departure in Anglo-Saxon 
policy quite clear, for he alludes to Eadward improving upon the policy of 
his father, /Elfred, by "devising a mode of frustrating the incursions of 
the Danes, for he repaired many ancient cities (urbibus) or built new 
ones in places calculated for his purpose" (lib. ii. anno 901). 


the story of ^Ethelred the Unready and his repeated 
flight to London is well known. But the point of 
all this is that London held her own. She was not 
conquered as the rest of the kingdom was conquered. 
The Saxon Chronicle at this point speaks as if the 
writer was contemporary with the events : 

"And oft they fought against the city of London, but 
praise be to God that it yet stands sound, and they there 
ever met with ill fare" (A.D. 1009). 

And, at last, only when ^Ethelred deserted her, did 
she open her gates to the conqueror. 1 

She did great things again so soon as she had a 
great English king to support. That great king was 
Eadmund Ironside. London's share in Eadmund's 

1 William of Malmesbury's account of London's fight for ^Ethelred 
is particularly valuable. On the submission of the Northumbrias, "all 
the other people who inhabited England on the north gave Sweyn 
tribute and hostages. Coining southward, he compelled Oxford and 
Winchester to obey his commands {leges suas) ; the Londoners alone, 
protecting their lawful sovereign within their walls, shut their gates 
against him. The Danes, on the other hand, assailing with greater 
ferocity, nurtured their fortitude with the hope of fame ; the townsmen 
{oppidani) were ready to rush on death for freedom, thinking they ought 
never to be forgiven should they desert their king, who had committed 
his life to their charge. While the conflict was raging fiercely on either 
side, victory befriended the juster cause ; for the citizens (civibus) made 
wonderful exertions, every one esteeming it glorious to show his 
unwearied alacrity to his prince, or even to die for him. Part of the 
enemy were destroyed, and part drowned in the River Thames, 
because in their headlong fury they had not sought a bridge. With 
his shattered army Sweyn retreated to Bath, where Ethelmer, governor 
{comes) of the western district, with his followers {cum suis omnibus), 
submitted to him. And, although all England was already bending 
to his dominion, yet not even now would the Londoners have yielded, 
had not ^thelred withdrawn his presence from among them {nee adhuc 
fleeter enlur Londonienses, totajam Anglia in clientelam illius inclinatd). 
However, they applied the best remedy they could to their exigencies, 


glories is a great one. After ^Ethelred's death, as 
Mr Freeman puts it, 

"beyond its walls, all was either actually in the hands 
of the invader or exposed to his power. The witan of 
England, Bishops, Abbots, Ealdormen, Thegns, all who were 
without the walls of London met in full gemot and chose 
Cnut to the vacant throne. . . . But this election did not 
represent the voice of all England ; . . . Cnut was chosen at 
Southampton but the citizens of London, with such of the 
other witan as were within the city, held a counter-gemot, 
and with one voice elected the ^Etheling Eadmund. His 
coronation at the hands of Archbishop Lyfing followed ; 
the rite was done within the walls of the city, no doubt 
in the minster of St Paul's, where the late king had just 
been buried." x 

And thus the city of London put forth her might 
and stood for England against the Dane. The first 
act of Eadmund was to go forth from London to 
try to win back the realm of his forefathers, the 
Kingdom of the West Saxons, and the doings of 
this period are worthy of anything to be read of 
in English annals. 

I only draw attention to these events to show how 
London had assumed an English attitude. She had 
defended the Briton against the Saxon ; she now 
defended the Saxon against the Dane ; she was, 
hereafter, to defend Saxon and Dane against the 

and surrendered after the example of their countrymen (compatriotarum 
exemplo se dedidere). They were men laudable in the extreme, and such 
as Mars himself would not have disdained to encounter, had they 
possessed a competent leader. Even while they were supported by 
the mere shadow of one, they risked every chance of battle, nay, even 
a siege of several months' continuance" (lib. ii. anno 1013). 
1 Freeman, Hist. Norman Conquest, i. 381. 


Norman. It is impossible to consider such a history 
without seeing that her power had the character of 

What then was London in the Anglo - Saxon 
system? I believe it will be found that the Saxon 
organisation flowed over, as it were, into London. 
I use the term flowed over, because the Saxon influ- 
ence in London came from the outside, in the sort 
of fashion which one might imagine a great wave, 
which had been kept back by walls, would eventu- 
ally penetrate beyond the walls, by narrow cracks 
and deficiencies, by sheer force of its immense 
weight and column, not by a sudden destruction and 

If these general conclusions are correct they 
suggest that the evidence of the Saxon settlement 
will be found around London, but not in London, 1 
and also that there was an organisation in London 
itself, which kept the Saxon settlement outside. If 
later political events taught the Anglo-Saxon monarchs 
the value of London in alliance with them, there will 

1 Mr Reginald Smith, in the Victoria County History of Essex 
(i. 316), draws attention to the fact that the coinage of London 
under the Anglo-Saxons points to London having "some degree of 
autonomy while the various Saxon kingdoms were growing up in 
other parts of the country." It is also important to point out that 
"ethnological observations seem to show that the Saxons settled in 
considerable numbers in the neighbourhood of London, at least in 
Middlesex, but it is open to question whether they ever destroyed the 
city." (Mr R. Smith, in Victoria County History of Essex, i. 318.) Cf. 
Beddoe, Races of Britain, 254, and Ripley, Races of Europe, 323. 


be some reflex of this remarkable position in the 
conditions of London itself. It is a dual position. 
There should be evidence of the ancient Roman 
constitution and law, and evidence, too, of the later 
Anglo-Saxon influences upon that constitution and 

As a matter of fact, there is such evidence. It is 
contained in the history of the internal affairs of London 
as they emerge under English rule, and I shall proceed 
to examine these. I have alluded to the importance 
of a system of merchant law. Mr Spence is of opinion 
that this law, which was Roman in origin, "had in 
all probability silently prevailed in London in some 
shape throughout the whole of the Anglo - Saxon 
times," 1 and although he does not give any proof of 
this opinion proof exists. Mr Maitland has stated 
that in the courts of the merchants alone did they 
have advocates or professional lawyers 2 in Saxon 
times, and it is precisely in London, where merchant 
law must have prevailed, that a curious college of 
lawyers existed whose origin is lost in antiquity and 
whose customs take us back to Roman practices. 

The order of the Coif is the oldest established 
association of lawyers in our country ; there is no 
law for its first institution, no charter from a 
sovereign, nothing to show from whence it sprung 
except its remarkable parallel to Roman customs. 
The assembling of the Roman Jurisperiti at early 
morn, stib galli cantum, and their peripatetic exercise 
up and down the forum, in actual consultation, or 

1 Equitable Jurisdiction of the Court of Chancery, i. 247. 

2 Select Pleas of Manorial Courts, 1 36. 


ready to confer with the consultores or clients, is 
described by Horace {Sat. I. i. 9) : 

"Agricolam laudat juris legumque peritus 
Sub galli cantum consultor ubi ostia pulsat ; " 

and again in the first epistle of his second book he 
explains more at large the custom which is again 
mentioned by Cicero in his oration for Murena. But 
this practice applied to those lawyers whose years and 
honours had grown with their knowledge of the laws. 
In their younger days, on the public days of market 
or assembly, the masters of the art, says Gibbon, 
were seen walking in the forum ready to impart the 
needful advice to the meanest of their fellow citizens, 
from whose votes on a future occasion they might 
solicit a grateful return. Let us take a step further 
in the history of Roman lawyers. When they awaited 
their clients at home, the youths of their own order 
and family were permitted to listen ; and Gibbon goes 
on to point out the evident corollary from this, that 
some families, as, for instance, the Mucian, were long 
renowned for their hereditary knowledge of the civil 
law. 1 Now all these facts are in exact parallel to 
the early customs of the order of the Coif. Serjeant 
Pulling points out the significance of the order as a 
family of lawyers, so to speak, who appear at the 
earliest dawn of English history, but originating from 
no special enactment from the government of the day, 
called into being by no charter or sanction of the 
sovereign. But the close parallel between the order 

1 Gibbon, Decline and Fall (Bury), iv. 455 ; Niebuhr, Lectures on 
History of Rome, ii. 18. 


of the Coif as a family or corporation of lawyers and 
the ■ Roman lawyers who developed into hereditary 
custodians of legal knowledge, becomes even more 
remarkable when we consider their practices and the 
theory of their duties. They assembled in the parvis 
of old St Paul's Cathedral, each serjeant having been 
allotted a special pillar in the cathedral at his appoint- 
ment, where they met their clients in legal consulta- 
tion, hearing the facts of the case, and taking notes 
of the evidence, or pacing up and down. 1 Parvis, in 
the case of St Paul's, comprehended the nave or the 
middle aisle of the old cathedral, or Paul's Walk. 
Chaucer alludes to the custom ; 

" A serjeant of the law, ware and wise, 
That often had been at the parvis." 

Fortescue alludes to it — "the suitors of the court 
betake themselves to the parvis to advise with the 
Serjeants at law, and other their counsel, about their 
affairs." 2 Dugdale describes the whole ceremony 3 
and examples of it exist in our ancient legal records. 

1 Pulling, Order of the Coif 2, 3. 

2 Fortescue, De laud. leg. Angl. cap. li. See also Hearne, Coll. of 
Curious Discourses, i. 66, and Machyrts Diary (Camden Society), 27. 

3 "And when the seid newe Serjaunts have denyed, then they goo 
in a sober maner with ther seid offycers and servaunts into London, oone 
the Est side of Chepesyde, one to Seynt Thomas of Acres, and ther they 
offer, and then come down on the west side of Chepesyde to Powle's, and 
ther offer at the Rode of the North door, at St Erkenwald's shrine, and 
then goo down into the body of the Chirche, and ther they be appoyntid 
to ther pyllyrs by the Styward and Comptroller of the feste which 
brought them thidder with the oder officers. And after that doone, they 
goo home ageyne to the place of the fest," etc. (Dugdale, Origines 
JuridicialeS) c. 44, p. 117.) 


Thus in an action for debt brought against a clergy- 
man in the reign of Edward III., it was alleged 
that he had bound himself to pay to the plaintiff 
^1000 in St Paul's Church, London. 1 Dugdale 
shows that the ceremony originated in the city itself: 

"There is a tradition that in times past there was one 
Inne of Court at Dowgate, another in Fewter Lane, and 
another in Pater Noster Row, which last they would prove 
because it was next to St Paul's church, where each lawyer 
and serjeant at his pillar heard his client's cause and took 
notes thereof upon his knee as they do in Guildhall at 
this day." 2 

This ceremony, thus identified with the citizens' 
Guildhall, leaves no room for doubt that it was the 
old Roman practice, and a practice which was clearly 
related in the nature of parent to child, not that of 
descendant from a common ancestor. 

Merchant law, thus shown to be active in its 
retention of Roman practices within the city is, by 
another remarkable piece of evidence, also shown to 
be active in its conflict with tribal law outside the city, 
that is, with the tribal law of the English. This comes 
to us by a re-examination of the well-known judicia 
civitatis Lundonicz of King ^Ethelstan's reign, the 
terms of which document have never been discovered 
to contain evidence of the existence in London of 
a merchant law which was opposed to Anglo-Saxon 
law, and opposed to it in the direction of being more 
advanced, opposed to it because it was a state law 
and not a kinship law. 

1 Year Book ', 15th Edw. III. pp. xiii. 317. 

2 Dugdale, op. cit. \%i. 


The document is as follows : 

This is the ordinance which the bishops and the reeves 
belonging to London have ordained and with ' weds ' confirmed 
among our frith ' gegildas,' as well ' eorlish ' as ' ceorlish ' in 
addition to the dooms which were fixed at ■ Greatanlea ' and 
at Exeter, and at * Thunresfeld.' 


1. That no thief be spared over xii pence and no person 
over xii years whom we learn according to folk-right that 
he is guilty and can make no denial ; that we slay him and 
take all that he has ; and first take the ' ceap gild ' from the 
property ; and after that let the surplus be divided into two ; 
one part to the wife, if she be innocent, and were not privy to 
the crime ; and the other into two : let the king take 
half, half the fellowship. If it be boc-land or bishops land 
then has the landlord the half part in common with the 

2. And he who secretly harbours a thief and is privy to 
the crime and to the guilt to him let the like be done. 

3. And he who stands with a thief and fights with him 
let him be slain with the thief. 

4. And he who oft before has been convicted openly of 
theft and shall go to the ordeal and is there found guilty ; 
that he be slain unless the kindred or the lord be willing to 
release him by his ' wer ' and by the full ' ceap gild ' and also 
have him in ' borh ' that he thenceforth desist from every kind 
of evil. If after that he again steal then let his kinsmen 
give him up to the reeve to whom it may appertain in such 
custody as they before took him out of from the ordeal and 
let him be slain in retribution of the theft. But if any one 
defend him and will take him although he was convicted 
at the ordeal so that he might not be slain : that he should 
be liable in his life, unless he should flee to the king and 
he should give him his life ; all as it was before ordained 
at ' Greatanlea/ and at Exeter, and at ' Thunresfeld.' 


5. And whoever will avenge a thief, and commits an 
assault or makes an attack on the highway : let him be 
liable in cxx shillings to the king. But if he slay any one 
in his revenge let him be liable in his life and in all that he 
has unless the king is willing to be merciful to him. 


That we have ordained : that each of us should contribute 
iv pence for our common use within xii months and pay for 
the property which should be taken after we had contributed 
the money ; and that we all should have the search in 
common ; and that every man should contribute his shilling 
who had property to the value of xxx pence except the 
poor widow who has no ■ for-wyrhta ' nor any land. 


That we count always x men together and the chief should 
direct the nine in each of those duties which we have all 
ordained ; and count afterwards their ' hyndens ' together and 
one ' hyndenman ' who shall admonish the x for our common 
benefit ; and let these xi hold the money of the * hynden ■ and 
decide what they shall disburse when aught is to pay and 
what they shall receive if money should arise to us at our 
common suit ; and let them also know that every contribu- 
tion be forthcoming which we have all ordained for our 
common benefit after the rate of xxx pence or one ox ; 
so that all be fulfilled which we have ordained in our 
ordinances and which stands in our agreement. 


That every man of them who has heard the orders should 
be aidful to others as well in tracing as in pursuit so long 
as the track is known and after the track has failed him that 
one man be found where there is a large population as well 
as from one tithing where a less population is, either to ride 
or to go (unless there be need of more) thither when most 
need is and as they all have ordained. 



That no search be abandoned either to the north of the 
march or to the south before every man who has a horse 
has ridden one riding and that he who has not a horse work 
for the lord who rides or goes for him until he come home, 
unless right shall have been previously obtained. 


i. Respecting our ' ceap gild' a horse at half a pound if 
it be so good and if it be inferior let it be paid for by the 
worth of its appearance and by that which the man values 
it at who owns it unless he have evidence that it be as good 
as he says and then let us have the surplus which we there 

2. And an ox at a ' mancus ' and a cow at xx and a swine 
at x and a sheep at a shilling. 

3. And we have ordained respecting our ' theowmen ' whom 
men might have ; if any one should steal him that he should 
be paid for with half a pound ; but if we should raise the ' gild ' 
that it should be increased above that by the worth of his 
appearance and that we should have for ourselves the surplus 
that we there require. But if he should have stolen himself 
away that he should be led to the stoning as it was formerly 
ordained ; and that every man who had a man should 
contribute either a penny or a halfpenny according to the 
number of the fellowship so that we might be able to raise 
the worth. But if he should make his escape that he should 
be paid for by the worth of his appearance and we all should 
make search for him. If we then should be able to come at 
him that the same should be done to him that would be done 
to a ■ Wylisc ' thief, or that he be hanged. 

4. And let the ' ceap gild ' always advance from xxx pence 
to half a pound after we make search ; further if we raise the 
1 ceap gild ' to the full ' angylde ' and let the search still 
continue as it was before ordained though it be less. 



That we have ordained : let do the deed whoever may 
that shall avenge the injuries of us all that we should be all 
so in one friendship as in one foeship whichever it then may 
be and that he who should kill a thief before other men, that 
he be xii pence the better for the deed and for the enterprise 
from our common money. And he who should own the 
property for which we pay let him not forsake the search 
on peril of our ' oferhyrnes ' and the notice therewith until we 
come to payment and then also we would reward him for 
his labour out of our common money according to the worth 
of the journey lest the giving notice be neglected. 


1. That we gather to us once in every month if we can 
and have leisure, the ' hynden men ' and those who direct the 
tithings as well with * bytt-fylling ' as else it may concern us 
and know what of our agreement has been executed and let 
these xii men have their refection together and feed them- 
selves according as they may deem themselves worthy and 
deal the remains of the meat for the love of God. 

2. And if it then should happen that any kin be so strong 
and so great within land or without land whether xii * hynde ' 
or ■ twy-hynde ' that they refuse us our right and stand up in 
defence of a thief that we all of us ride thereto with the reeve 
within whose ' manung ' it may be. 

3. And also send on both sides to the reeves and desire 
from them aid of so many men as may seem to us adequate 
for so great a suit that there may be the more fear in those 
culpable men for our assemblage and that we all ride thereto 
and avenge our wrong and slay the thief and those who 
fight and stand with him unless they be willing to depart 
from him. 

4. And if any one trace a track from one shire to another 
let the men who there are next take to it and pursue the 
track till it be made known to the reeve let him then with 


his ' manung ' take to it and pursue the track out of his shire 
if he can ; but if he cannot let him pay the ' angylde ' of the 
property and let both reeveships have the full suit in common 
be it wherever it may as well to the north of the march as to 
the south always from one shire to another so that every 
reeve may assist another for the common ' frith ' of us all by 
the king's ' oferhyrnes.' 

5. And also that every one shall help another as it is 
ordained and by ' weds ' confirmed and such man as shall 
neglect this beyond the march let him be liable in xxx pence 
or an ox if he aught of this neglect which stands in our 
writings and we with our ' weds ' have confirmed. 

6. And we have also ordained respecting every man who 
has given his 'wed' in our gildships if he should die that each 
gild brother shall give a 'gesufel ' loaf for his soul and sing a 
fifty or get it sung within xxx days. 

7. And we also command our hiremen that each man 
shall know when he has his cattle or when he has not on 
his neighbours' witness and that he point out to us the track 
if he cannot find it within three days for we believe that 
many heedless men reck not how their cattle go for over- 
confidence in the ' frith/ 

8. Then we command that within iii days he make it 
known to his neighbour if he will ask for the ' ceap gild ' and 
let the search nevertheless go on as it was before ordained for 
we will not pay for any unguarded property unless it be 
stolen. Many men speak fraudulent speech. If he cannot 
point out to us the track let him shew on oath with iii of his 
neighbours that it has been stolen within iii days and after 
that let him ask for his 'ceap gild.' 

9. And let it not be denied nor concealed if our lord or 
any of our reeves should suggest to us any addition to our 
* frith gilds ' that we will joyfully accept the same as it becomes 
us all and may be advantageous to us. But let us trust in 
God and our kingly lord if we fulfil all things thus that the 
affairs of all folk will be better with respect to theft than they 
before were. If however we slacken in the 'frith' and the 
4 wed ' which we have given and the king has commanded of 


us then may we expect or well know that these thieves will 
prevail yet more than they did before. But let us keep our 
1 weds ' and the ' frith ' as is pleasing to our lord ; it greatly 
behoves us that we devise that which he wills and if he order 
and instruct us more we shall be humbly ready. 


That we have ordained respecting those thieves whom one 
cannot immediately discover to be guilty and one afterwards 
learns that they are guilty and liable ; that the lord or the 
kinsmen should release him in the same manner as those men 
are released who are found guilty at the ordeal. 


That all the * witan ' gave their ' weds ' all together to the 
Archbishop at Thunresfeld, when ^Elfeah Stybb and 
Brihtnoth Odda's son came to meet the gemot by the 
king's command ; that each reeve should take the * wed ' in 
his own shire ; that they would all hold the ' frith ' as king 
iEthelstan and his ( witan ' had counselled it first at ' Great- 
anlea ' and again at Exeter and afterwards at Feversham and 
a fourth time at Thunresfeld before the archbishop and all 
the bishops, and his ' witan ' whom the king himself named 
who were thereat : that those dooms should be observed 
which were fixed at this 'gemot' except those which were 
there before done away with ; which was Sunday marketing 
and that with full and true witness any one might buy out of 


That iEthelstan commands his bishops and his 'ealdor- 
men ' and all his reeves over all my realm that ye so hold the 
' frith ' as I and my ' witan ' have ordained. And if any of you 
neglect it and will not obey me and will not take the ' wed ' 
of his 'hiremen' and he allow of secret compositions and 
will not attend to these regulations as I have commanded 
and it stands in our writs then be the reeve without his 


1 folgoth ' and without my friendship and pay me cxx 
shillings and each of my thanes who has land and will 
not keep the regulations as I have commanded [let him 
pay] half that. 


1. That the king now again has ordained to his ' witan ' 
at ' Witlanburh ' and has commanded it to be made known 
to the archbishop by bishop Theodred that it seemed to 
him too cruel that so young a man should be killed and 
besides for so little as he has learned has somewhere been 
done. He then said that it seemed to him and to those 
who counselled with him that no younger person should 
be slain than xv years, except he should make resistance 
or flee and would not surrender himself; that then he 
should be slain as well for more as for less whichever it 
might be. But if he be willing to surrender himself let 
him be put into prison as it was ordained at ' Greatanlea,' 
and by the same let him be redeemed. 

2. Or if he come not into prison and they have none, that 
they take him in ' borh ' by his full ' wer ' that he will ever- 
more desist from every kind of evil. If the kindred will 
not take him out nor enter into 'borh' for him then let him 
swear as the bishop may instruct him that he will desist 
from every kind of evil and stand in servitude by his ' wer.' 
But if he after that again steal let him be slain or hanged 
as was before done to the older ones. 

3. And the king has also ordained that no one should 
be slain for less property than xii pence worth unless he 
will flee or defend himself and that then no one should 
hesitate though it were for less. If we it thus hold then 
trust I in God that our 'frith' will be better than it has 
before been. 1 

It is worth while transferring the text of this 
remarkable document to these pages. Not enough 

1 Ancient Laws and Institutes of England^ folio, 97-103 ; Kemble, 
Saxons in England^ i i . 521-527. 


use has been made of it by historians, and it 
has not been examined from all points of view. 
There is one aspect of it in particular which 
seems to me to be the key to understanding the 
whole, and this has not hitherto been touched upon. 
Let me first note that this document comes to us 
from ^thelstan's reign, and that this king "had 
carried the influence of the crown to an extent 
unexampled in any of his predecessors." 1 But what 
do we get? Certainly not a royal charter. Not a 
royal decree — not even a royal sanction. What 
the Londoners did was to pass their own laws by 
their own citizens without reference to the king at 
all, and it is important to observe that the chief 
men of the city, who accomplished this work, were 
the bishops and reeves of London. What happened 
afterwards was evidently this : that the code passed 
by the Londoners was sent to the king for him to 
extend its application throughout the kingdom, and 
this is done by the eleventh section. Up to section 9, 
the law is Londoners' law, and it is sufficient that 
London should make this law. Section 10 describes 
a conference, as we should now call it, between the 
king's counsellors and the Londoners, and section 1 1 
makes it known to the kingdom at large, that where 
it is necessary to put the Londoners' law in force 
outside London it is the king's command that it should 
be so put. We thus have it shown by express words 
that London claimed to be a law-making authority, 
and claimed it not against an opposition, but by right 
of unquestioned practice. 

1 Kemble, Saxons iti England, ii. 312. 



Turning to the contents of the code it is clear 
that Londoners had a grievance. " Many men speak 
fraudulent speech," they proclaim. They have before 
them the fear " that these thieves will prevail yet 
more than they did before." And what then was 
the grievance ? The code is an elaborate protection 
against theft. It sets forth the rules and laws which 
should in the future govern acts of theft of property 
belonging to Londoners. I pass by the actual form 
of the code, the primitive construction of the sentences, 
the lack of consecutive order, and the clumsy method 
of setting forth their decisions, because interesting 
points as these are to the historical jurist, they do 
not equal in importance the object of the law. That 
it should deal only with the crime of theft is so 
remarkable that it must point to something of 
importance which had occurred in the relationship 
of the city to the country at large. The citizens of 
London, descendants of the Roman merchants, 
adhesions from the Saxon classes who turned to 
trading, infusions of Danes and foreigners of all 
kinds, were above all things traders — men to whom 
the law of theft was of supreme importance. 
Evidently by the fact of this new code, the citizens 
of London sought to bring their laws as to theft 
into line with the rest of the country. I hope the 
significance of this fact is understood. Primarily, of 
course, it means that the laws of London did not 
agree with the laws of the Saxons. These depended 
entirely upon blood kinship within the Saxon tribe. 
If you erred you were defended, or ransomed, by 
your kinsmen. You in turn had to stand by your 


kinsmen. That there was no such bond of kindred 
in London is shown by these very laws of the 
Londoners which we are considering. They had to 
resort to an artificial bond, not of blood relationship, 
but of mutual interest. They formed groups of ten 
men, or rather ten households, and these groups 
bound themselves to aid each other in the pursuit 
of thieves, in the avenging of each others wrongs, 
and in other purposes elsewhere belonging to the 
natural group of kinsmen. Let do the deed who- 
ever may, says the law, that shall avenge the 
injuries of us all, that we should be all so in one 
friendship as in one foeship, whichever it then may 
be. Another rule is a remarkable one : And if it 
then should happen that any kin be so strong and 
so great, within land or without, that they refuse 
us our right and stand up in defence of a thief; 
that we all of us ride thereto with the reeve within 
whose manung it may be. 

Here is the kinship group of the country put in 
direct contrast with the surety-group or frith-gild, 
formed by the city of London. Finally there is this 
remarkable rule that "no thief be spared over xii pence 
and no person over xii years." Now a person under 
fourteen years of age was in the jurisdiction of the 
housefather, he was unknown to the Anglo-Saxon 
law and was responsible for nothing. According to 
the London code, however, he was made responsible 
for his own act when he reached the age of twelve, 
and this shows as clearly as anything that the kinship 
laws of the Saxons did not obtain in London. 
Individuals were there, as under the Roman law, 


personally responsible for their own acts. But the 
Saxons did not understand this innovation upon 
their system, and in respect of this very law passed 
by the Londoners King ^Ethelstan, the most powerful 
of the Saxon monarchs, passed his decree, that it 
seemed to him too cruel that so young a man should 
be killed and besides for so little as he has learned 
has somewhere been done. He then said that 
it seemed to him and to those who counselled 
with him that no younger person should be slain 
than xv years except he should make resistance 
or flee and would not surrender himself. 

The provision which follows makes it clear that 
his kindred were to be responsible for him in the 
first place. Here is the great King ^thelstan telling 
the Londoners that their law of personal responsibility 
is too much out of line with Saxon law where 
responsibility was with the kin and not with the 
individual. There is no charter setting the matter 
right, no decree telling the Londoners to alter 
their law, but merely the expression of the opinion 
of the king and his witan, an expression, no doubt, 
having the force of law, but there is not the form 
of law. 

There are other interesting points in this remark- 
able code of London laws, but I have given all 
that I need for my present purpose. Let me ask 
for a reconsideration of these laws. They are the 
laws, as it appears to me, made by the London 
citizen for protection against an opposing set of 
laws with which they were not familiar, or which 
had been forced upon their notice by their hostile 


operation against city law, namely, the Saxon kinship 
law ; a code made by themselves without let or 
hindrance or sanction by the king, and which the 
king, being accustomed to the Saxon kinship system, 
tried to alter because it " seemed to him too cruel 
that so young a man should be killed." And if 
they were not Anglo - Saxon kinship laws, not, in 
fact, kinship laws at all, but laws enacted to meet the 
emergency created by the existence of kinship laws 
outside London, where Londoners were trading and 
wished to trade, they must have been the work of 
men accustomed to a non-kinship system of law 
and capable of legislating upon a non-kinship basis. 
Where, then, could this non-kinship law have been 
derived ? 

Bearing in mind the evidences as to the survival 
of Roman London in late times, and therefore through- 
out Anglo-Saxon times, it is not too much to suggest 
that the source of this non- Saxon element in London 
must have been the continued Roman element, and 
we thus arrive at the dual elements in Anglo-Saxon 
England, the state element as it may be called, 
represented by the cities, the tribal element repre- 
sented by the settlements in the open country, 1 just 

1 Dr Gross's views do not conflict with mine. {Gild Merchant, i. 178- 
181.) Mr Kemble {Saxons in England, ii. 333-335) agrees that this code 
shows the independence of London ; Mr Chadwick {Studies on Anglo- 
Saxon Institutions, 247) seems to me just to miss the real point of the 
case, but a parallel case to that I have worked out for London is 
described by Mr Seebohm in the case of the Helvetian Valley, between 
Neuchatel and Geneva, occupied by a population under Roman law, 
and an intruding Burgundian people under the tribal law. The whole 
case lends force to my argument. See Seebohm, Tribal Custom in 
Anglo-Saxon Law, 1 21-125. 


that dual element and conflict between two different 
systems of law, a state law and a tribal law, which 
Edmund Spenser and Sir John Davies found in 
Ireland, and of which they so bitterly complained 1 
in Elizabeth's reign. 

Further examination will lead us to the formation 
of the " English cnihtengild," which Mr Coote so 
learnedly investigated. 2 It was formed probably in 
the reign of Eadgar, years after the ^thelstan 
code had been passed. It was formed too by the 
citizens themselves, for there is no grant extant, and 
the reference back to the gild from the charter of 
Eadward the Confessor distinctly does not refer to 
charters — " And I will that they retain the good laws 
which they had in King Eadgar's day and in my 
father's and Cnut's day." 3 Its object was the defence 

1 The parallel here suggested is really remarkable. The state law 
of England did not run in Ireland, and Edmund Spenser particularly 
demanded that "every head of every sept and every chief of every 
kindred or family should be answerable and bound to bring forth every 
one of that sept and kindred under it at all times, to be justified when he 
should be required, or charged with any treason, felony, or other heinous 
crime," and complained that "the evil which now I find in all Ireland 
that the Irish dwell together by their septs, and several nations so as 
they may practise and conspire what they will" (Edmund Spenser, View 
of the State of Ireland, 1595, Morley's edit. 72, 165), all of which, in the 
opinion of Sir John Davies, is opposed to "the just and honourable law 
of England." (Davies, Discovery of the True Causes why Ireland was 
never entirely subdued, 161 2, Morley's edit. 291.) 

2 London and Middlesex Arch. Soc. v. 476-492. 

3 Mr Coote suggests that this refers to " royal grants," but he had 
not considered the facts which tell against the supposition. And indeed 
he distinctly says in his study of this gild, " no English king before the 
Norman conquest ever exercised the right of licensing a gild. Every 
gild was then perfectly legal without royal authority" (p. 483). In any 
case, there being no reference to such grants, I am entitled to the con- 
clusion that the usual rule of independent action by the city would obtain. 


of the city by a gild of men trained to battle, and 
that it was formed on the artificial gild system, as 
was the frith-gild of ^thelstan's day, suggests to 
me that this is one more instance of the Londoner's 
method of meeting the new kinship organisation 
which existed outside London. 1 


From this point we must proceed somewhat 
differently. The matter before us becomes a question 
which can only be asked in the following terms : 
What is the evidence that exists as to the descent 
of Roman municipal custom in London : what is the 
evidence of Teutonic tribal custom : and, finally, in 
what relationship do they stand towards each other ? 2 

Now the mere grouping of London municipal 
customs into Roman and Saxon origins will not 
establish the fact we are most anxious to get at, 
namely, which system of polity predominated in the 
government of London ? But if we see one group of 
customs becoming distinctly and clearly recognised 
as municipal law, and so losing its historical origin 

1 A very interesting phase of the relationship of Roman Lundinium 
to the surrounding Celtic tribes showing the dividing line between the 
two is preserved in an extensive group of treasure legends which have 
London bridge for their central feature, and I have worked out the 
whole subject in my new volume on Folklore Problems. 

2 " I shall next take notice of some ancient customs which had their 
original from the Romans (as I take it) ... . and if a collection of all 
of them were drawn up and published together I am apt to think that it 
would be very useful as well as a pleasant undertaking, and conduce 
in a great measure to the clearing of many particulars of Roman 
history." (Bagford's letter in Hearne's Itinerary of Leland, i. lxxiv.) 


in its later utility, and if we see another group of 
customs delegated to municipal usage only, having 
no force as municipal law, we may be reasonably 
sure as to the method of fixing upon the dominating 
power. The men who practise customs because their 
fathers practised them, though they have a historical 
continuity of race, have no historical continuity of power 
if they have not succeeded in getting those customs 
promoted to the dignity of legal sanction. The 
case thus stated in general terms is applicable to the 
early municipal history of London : we see municipal 
law and municipal custom side by side ; the one 
with a legal or political sanction at the back of 
it, the other supported by social effort only. I 
have succeeded in collecting what I venture to 
characterise as a remarkable collection of customs 
practised in London far down in the mediaeval ages, 
and which are unquestionably of Teutonic origin. 
But I have not found this body of custom recognised 
or codified. It obtains in one locality, and not in 
another ; it is mentioned incidentally by one authority 
and not by another ; it is practised by one body of 
citizens and not by another ; it has no cohesion 
one item with another, no systematic codification 
into municipal law ; it is, in short, the sport of an 
undercurrent life of the citizens, and not the out- 
spoken action of the dominant life. And hence I 
conclude that this Teutonic custom existing here in 
the midst of mediaeval London had met with a power 
with which it was hard to fight. That power could 
not have been Norman, because the Normans, partly 
Teutonic themselves, would have legalised or char- 


tered their innovations. And the London charters 
of Norman times are distinct and definite in their 
formal recognition of existing municipal law. If it 
was not the Norman, then, who fought with the 
Teuton and relegated his barbarous law into municipal 
custom, it must have been the Roman. The Roman 
with his precious gift of commercial insight, with 
the growing powers of wealth, stood firm to his old 
ways ; and while the Saxon Londoners kept their 
folkmoots, drowned their criminals, pilloried their 
minor offenders, the Roman merchants kept to 
their own laws, until they ultimately superimposed 
them upon the whole community. 

The Anglo-Saxons, as masters of England, would 
introduce as much of the tribal system, or its central 
ideas, as they could into the government of every 
town they dominated. In what position then do we 
find the Saxon system of government in London ? 

Commencing with the subject of municipal polity, 
let us see what evidence there is of tribal life 
as the basis of later municipal life in London. Mr 
Coote draws attention to the fact that the citizens 
of London were landowners, 1 and he specifies two 
remarkable instances, namely, Becket's father and 
Osbern, who in later days held many possessions. 2 

FitzStephen, as early as the reign of Henry II., 
gives an account of the lands held by the citizens. 3 

1 Romans of Britain, 337. 2 Ibid. 380. 

3 Mr Loftie does something more than suggest that, in the oldest 
days, the aldermen were the owners of their respective wards {History 
of London, i. 158-161), but this is pure conjecture based upon no evidence, 
and is the offspring of Mr Loftie's conception of London as an Anglo- 
Saxon city. 


Everywhere, he says, without the houses of the 
suburbs, the citizens have gardens extensive and 
beautiful, and one joining to the other (contigud). 
Then he describes the arable lands of the citizens 
as bringing plentiful corn, and being like the rich 
fields of Asia. And then comes the pastures. On 
the north side there are pasture fields, and pleasant 
meadows intersected by streams, the waters of which 
turn the wheels of mills with delightful sounds. 
Very near lies a large forest in which are wild beasts, 
bucks and does, wild boars and bulls. 1 

Henry III. is recorded as giving away in 1265 
more than sixty houses belonging to the citizens, 
they with all their families being expelled. 2 The 
charter of Edward III., 1327, contains the following 
clause relating to the lands of the citizens : 

"Also we grant, that the lands and tenements (lying 
without) of the said citizens, which have been, or hereafter 
shall be ministers of the said city, be bound to keep the said 
city harmless against us and our heirs, of those things which 
concern their offices, as their tenements be within the said 
city." 3 

At this point we are introduced to the law of 
London with regard to heirship to property. This 
was that a man should leave one-third of his property 
to his children, one-third to his wife, and the remaining 
third he might dispose of as he pleased, and Mr 

1 Liber Cust. i. 4. 

2 Chronicles of the Mayors and Sheriffs of London, 59. 

5 Item, quod tenementa forinseca civium Londoniarum qui fuerunt, 
vel exnunc erunt, ministri civitatis pra^dicta?, sint obligata ad conser- 
vandam dictam civitatem indemnem, etc,de hiisquae officia sua contingunt, 
sicut tenementa sua infra eandem civitatem. {Liber A/bus, i. 147.) 


Spence is of opinion that "in Kent, in London, and in 
York, it appears to have continued in uninterrupted 
succession from the time when Britain was a Roman 
province." 1 It was only abolished in London by a 
statute of George I. (1 1 cap. 18), and it is pure Roman 
law. 2 In London, however, its sanction was not the 
code of Justinian but citizen rights, and one cannot 
emphasize too strongly the importance of this fact. 
That the rights originated in Roman Lundinium is 
the necessary conclusion to be drawn, but it is equally 
important to note that it was kept up by the claim 
of citizens to their own law. 3 We have in this an 

1 Equitable Jurisdiction of the Court of Chancery ', 188. 

2 The Roman law is to be found in Cod. Theod. ii. 19, 4, and Justinian, 
ii. 18, 1. 

3 It would be well to have an example of this law being put into 
force. The will of John Mabb, citizen of London, 7th November 1578, was 
printed by Mr Rendle in the Athenceum, 23rd July 1887, and on p. 117, 
col. 3, occurs the following passage : u And after my debtes paide and 
funerall discharged, I will that all and singular my goods, cattells, debtes 
plate, monneye, and juells, shalbe equallie apportioned into three 
equall partes, according to thauncient custome of this citye o/Londoun, one 
of whiche partes I doe gyve and bequeathe to Isabell my wel beloved 
wief, in the name of her parte and reasonable portioun of all my saide 
goods and of all other the premisses by reason of the saide custome 
to her to be due and belonginge. And one other parte of the said three 
parts I doo gyve and bequeathe to and amoungest my fyve sonnes and 
three daughters." The third part is distributed generally. Another 
point that is worth illustrating is the manner in which this customary 
law of London operated in cases where the citizen held other property 
elsewhere than in London. This is shown by a writ addressed to the 
mayor and sheriff of London in 1274: "Whereas Peter de Stok by his 
charter lately enfeoffed Henry de Waleys with a messuage in London 
which Peter and his heirs are bound to warrant to him, and Joan, late 
the wife of John son of John, son of Saer demands a third of the mes- 
suage against Henry by the king's writ of dower in the king's court of the 
city, and Peter, although he has nothing in the city whereby he can 
be compelled to such warranty has elsewhere in the realm sufficient 
tenement for this, and the king ought not to will that Henry should 


instance of the force which was at the back of the 
organisation in London, keeping its laws separated 
from the general law of the land, and continuing in 
English London what had begun in Roman 

Passing to lands held by the city, the Liber A/bus 1 
contains a most instructive list of grants and agree- 
ments made by the city. " Concessio majoris et 
communitatis " is the formula ; and the mayor and 
community grant extramural property away with a 
free hand — "de domo vocata Bedlem extra Bysshopis- 
gate, de domo extra Newgate, de quadam domo 
extra Crepulgate." And besides these there are 
such instructive documents as "Memorandum de 
quadam Placea terrae extra Crepulgate capta in manum 
Civitatis." I cannot conceive a more instructive piece 
of work than a map of the city property, restored 
from the archives and documents of the city, to show 
the possessions of the earliest times. Mr Riley, in 
his introduction to the Liber Custumarum, has 
summarised from the text of that remarkable volume 
several instances of public land, that is, land belonging 

incur danger of disinheritance for default of such warranty if Peter 
wish to escape it fraudulently especially as the king is debtor to every- 
one of his kingdom in justice ; he therefore grants on this occasion 
that if Henry vouch Peter to warranty for this third part before the 
mayor and sheriff against Joan, the mayor and sheriff shall cause to 
be made a writ of judgment summoning Peter elsewhere in the kingdom 
where he has lands to answer before them in the king's court of the 
city concerning making the said warranty, and that they shall send 
the writ to Chancery to be sealed with the king's seal, whereby full 
justice may be exhibited to the parties in this suit. Given by the hand 
of W. de Merton the chancellor." {Close Rolls % 2 Edward /., 1274 
Calendar, 73"74-) 
1 Vol. i. p. 552. 


to the municipality, having been appropriated and 
built upon. 1 We get a glimpse of this corporation 
property, too, from the Chronicles of the Mayors and 
Sheriffs of London. At page 35 of Mr Riley's 
edition we read how Henry III. issued letters patent 
restoring the rights of the citizens, among which it 
is said that "they shall have all issues of rents 
arising from houses and tenements as well in the 
city aforesaid as in the suburbs thereof." And again, 
at page 83, we read how the populace, in 1262, 
"endeavoured to throw open lanes which, by writ of 
his lordship the King, and with the sanction of the 
Justiciars Itinerant, the community assenting thereto, 
had been stopped up and rented to certain persons." 2 
Stow gives us some information about the enclosure 
of lands in his day, and as it alludes to the defence 
of ancient rights, it is correct to quote it here. At 
Houndsditch, he says, " was a fair field," which, "as 
all other about the city was inclosed, reserving open 
passage thereinto for such as were disposed." Again 
he says : 

"And now concerning the inclosure of common grounds 
about this city whereof I mind not much to argue, Edward 
Hall setteth down a note of his time, to wit, in the 5th or 
6th of Henry VIII. Before this time, saith he, the inhabitants 
of the town about London, as Iseldon, Hoxton, Shoreditch 
and others, had so inclosed the common fields with hedges 
and ditches, that neither the young men of the city might 
shoot, nor the ancient persons walk for their pleasures in 
those fields ; but that either their bows and arrows were taken 

1 Introduction, cx.-cxiii. 

2 Miss Bateson notes a very interesting list of rents in Thames Street. 
{Eng. Hist. Rev. xvii. 483.) 


away or broken, or the honest persons arrested or indicted, 
saying that no Londoner ought to go out of the city, but in 
the highways. This saying so grieved the Londoners, that 
suddenly this year a great number of the city assembled 
themselves in a morning, and a turner in a fool's coat came 
crying through the city, ' Shovels and spades ! — shovels and 
spades ! ' So many of the people followed, that it was a 
wonder to behold ; and within a short space all the hedges 
about the city were cast down, and the ditches filled up 
and everything made plain, such was the diligence of these 
workmen." 1 

These facts show us, I think, the existence of two 
systems of ownership, individual and corporate, and 
also that the one was struggling against the other 
for mastery. Such a struggle could not have resulted 
from the existence of a Roman municipal polity, 
which fully recognised individual ownership ; and it 
must have resulted from the opposition of Saxon 
polity which only recognised community of ownership. 
The question is, how did this struggle operate ? The 
city lands in Finsbury- and Smithfield are not true 
instances of the communal landholding of the Anglo- 
Saxon type, for they are obviously survivals of 
another and later state of things ; the action of the 
citizens with regard to the common lands outside 
the city is not a true instance of the recognition of 
communal landholding, for it was the concerted 

1 Stow's Survey by Thorns, 1 59. 

2 See Chronicles of the Mayors and Sheriffs of London, 174, for an 
account of how nearly this was lost to the citizens in 1173. A curious 
legend about Moorfields and its origin as citizen ground is contained in 
a ballad printed by the Percy Society (vol. i.). It illustrates the fact 
that the origin of this land as citizen land was entirely beyond memory. 
It is called The Life and Death of the Two Ladies of Finsbury, that gave 


action of individual citizens, not the collective action 
of the corporate city. 

We can, however, get no better facts than these 
to illustrate the relationship of individual and 
communal tenements following the introduction into 
London of the Saxon over-rule until we turn to 
some remarkable evidence to be found in old 
citizen custom. The tenement in the village was 
the basis of all rights in the village. It was, there- 
fore, an important symbol, and its destruction would 
be considered most fatal. It was thus used as an 
engine of judicial procedure. At Folkestone, if either 
the mayor or any of the jurats refused to assume 
their respective offices upon being elected, "the 
commons were to go and beat down their principal 
messuage." 1 On the occasion of the election of 
bailiff at Hastings, it was a law that " if the said 
bailiff be absent, or will not accept the charge, all 
the commoners shall go and beat down his chief 
tenement." 2 The same law obtained in all the 
Cinque Ports, and it, moreover, belongs unquestion- 

Moorfields to the City for the Maidens of London to dry Cloaths. A verse 
or two describes the events as follows : 

"And likewise when maidens died 

They gave those pleasant fields 
Unto our London citizens 

Which they most bravely build. 
And now are made most pleasant walks 

That great contentment yield 
To maidens of London so fair. 
Where lovingly both man and wife 

May take the evening air, 
And London dames, to dry their cloathes, 

May hither still repair." 

1 Report of the Record Commission, 1837, 453. 

2 Sussex Archaeological Collections, xii. 197. 


ably to old Teutonic village law. It has also a much 
wider application in English provincial districts. 

Now let us turn to London. The assize of Henry 
II. states "that the house of the individual who 
harbours a heretic shall be carried out of the town 
and burnt." 1 There is the same principle under- 
lying this and the above-mentioned law. And if we 
turn to the Preston Guild laws we shall see how 
this is. Every new burgess was obliged to erect his 
burgage within forty days ; 2 and the shortness of 
this period is explained by the fact noted by the 
authors of the History of Preston Guild (p. 47), 
Messrs Dobson and Harland, that the houses 

" were formed of a framework of oak, and the interstices 
were filled with a sort of plaster formed of clay mixed with 
straw, reeds, or rushes. Each piece of wood in the frame- 
work was usually tenoned, fitted into a mortise, and fixed 
by a woodon peg. The framework was put together by the 
builder before it was taken to the site. When the old buildings 
facing the market-place were removed in 1855, much curiosity 
was excited by an examination of the framework, each tenon 
and mortise being numbered to correspond with each other, 
so that when the frame was placed on the site it had to 
occupy, the component parts could be as easily fitted to each 
other as when it was framed." 

It appears also by one of the Paston letters, "that 
small houses were sometimes framed and made ready 
on the spot where the wood was felled." Some dispute 
having arisen the owner or occupier of the wood 
refused his consent to the carrying away of the 

1 § 21. See Palgrave, Eng. Com. ii. p. clxxiii. 
■ Ancient Custumal of Preston, § 5. 


timber-work after it had been made ready to set up. 
The letter says : 

" Brother Paston, I recommend me unto you, praying you 
that ye take the labour to speak with Thomas Ratcliffe, of 
Framsden (Suffolk), for the deliverance of part of a house 
which lyeth in his wood at Framsden, which house the 
owner hath carried part thereof to Oxford, which, so departed, 
the remanent that remaineth in his wood shall do him little 
good, and it shall hurt greatly the workmen and the owner 
thereof also, which is my tenant, and the house should be 
set upon ground." 1 

This carrying of the framework to the site clearly 
explains the possibility of carrying the houses out of 
the city of London, bearing in mind the evidence 
given by the assize of Fitzalwyne, first lord mayor 
of London, that the houses in the city were all 
thatched, 2 and the curious story told by Stow of his 
father's house having in one night been moved bodily 
some distance. 3 

Another distinguishing feature of the early Teutonic 
community was the powers of its assembly in the 
regulation and management of its lands. Such an 
assembly existed in some municipal boroughs in 1835 
in a very distinct form ; and the ancient powers of 
the London court of hustings are to be attributed to 
the same cause. In this court all kinds of real 
actions for the recovery of lands and tenements within 
the city and its liberties are cognisable ; and in this 
language we can easily recognise a translation of 
that which would have described the archaic duties of 

1 Ramsay, Pas/on Letters, i. 33. 

2 Liber Albus, i. 328. 

3 S tow's Survey by Thorns. 



the old village assembly, especially if we take into 
consideration the exceedingly curious powers which 
attend proceedings under this court. The recorder 
must pronounce judgment, and forty freeholders 
formed the inquest, chosen from twelve men and the 
aldermen from the ward where the tenements in 
question lie, and the same number from each of the 
three wards next to the said tenements. 1 Such a 
court as this was the result of no political legislation. 
It is the descendant of that archaic assembly which 
belonged to every tribal community. 

But when we come to speak of the assembly of 
the citizens, there is much closer analogy to the 
assembly of old Teutonic communities ; and its decay 
and final wiping out from the institutions of the city 
mark the struggle between the community as the 
Saxon Londoners understood it and the community as 
the Roman Londoners sought to make it. Nothing is 
more curious than the history of the London folk- 
moot. We see it standing out, now and again, in 
all its original strength, attended by all the citizens in 
early Teutonic fashion ; but we see towering behind 
it, overshadowing it too, a small, compact body of 
aldermen, just such a body, in fact, as governed 
the Roman municipia, a high class of citizens 
— optimates, meliores, primates, potentates — who 
monopolised all municipal power and privilege to 
the absolute exclusion of the other class. 2 Though 
we see this struggle going on late down in history, 

1 See Privilegia Londini, 1701, 162. The four benches of the 
Hustings court are interesting details of the formation of the court. 
See Miss Bateson in Eng. Hist. Rev. xvii. 489. 

2 Coote, Romans of Britain, 368, 


though our only record of it is a post - Norman 
chronicler, it appears to me to be something far 
greater, historically speaking, than a struggle for 
liberty against a mediaeval tyrant king. If the 
actual struggle is against Henry III. and his faction, 
the contending parties are old foes, who have met 
and fought often before, who fight on the historic 
ground chalked out by the meeting-place of an open- 
air folkmoot, and who use such archaic weapons 
as the "Yea, yea," and "Nay, nay," of Teutonic 
folk-speech. We know how late in modern times 
relics of archaic custom have survived ; and when I 
consider these struggles of mediaeval Londoners, and 
all that they reflect of the past history of the city, 
it appears as if we were presented with a set of 
survivals as real as weapons of stone and bronze, to 
tell us of the age from whence they are descended. 

The folkmoot was held in the open air, upon a 
piece of ground at the east end of St Paul's Church, 
adjoining the cross. 1 Here, at all events, we stand 
upon undoubted Teutonic ground, conquered from 
the Roman by men who knew and loved the tribal 
institutions they sought to transplant into the city. 
But then there is no evidence that this assembly 
of the citizens ever wholly dominated the city and 
was recognised as the supreme council. 

The fight between the popular assembly or folk- 
moot, where every citizen had a right to attend, and 
the smaller body, is well related in the Chronicles 
of the Mayors and Sheriffs of London, 1 188 to 1274. 

1 See Liber Cust. 338, 339, and my Primitive Folkmoots, 158, where I 
have discussed the archaic importance of this. 


In 1249, upon the Abbot of Westminster and his 
advisers desiring to hold a conference with the 
mayor and aldermen, "the whole of the populace 
opposed it, and would not allow them, without the 
whole of the commons being present, to treat at all 
of the matter" (p. 18). Again, in 1257, on the 
occasion of charges being made against certain 
aldermen, the king gave orders to the sheriffs to 
convene the folkmoot on the morrow at St Paul's 
Cross, upon which day all the aldermen and citizens 
assembled there. The proceedings are fully described, 
but the passage interesting to us is the following : 

" To which inquiry (no conference being first held among 
the discreet men of the city, as is usually the practice) answer 
was made by some of the populace, sons of divers mothers, 
many of them born without the city, and many of servile 
condition, with loud shouts of 'Nay, nay, nay'" (p. 38). 

In 1262 we have the following remarkable passage : 

" The mayor, Thomas FitzThomas, during the time of his 
mayoralty, had so pampered the city populace, that, styling 
themselves the ( commons of the city,' they had obtained the 
first voice in the city. For the mayor, in doing all that he 
had to do, acted and determined through them, and would 
say to them, 'Is it your will that so it shall be?' and then 
if they answered, ' Ya, ya,' so it was done. And on the other 
hand, the aldermen or chief citizens were little or not at 
all consulted on such matter" (p. 59). 

In 1265 the populace cried "Nay, nay," to the 
proposed election of William FitzRichard as sheriff, 
and demanded Thomas FitzThomas (p. 91). In 1266 
" the low people arose, calling themselves the commons 
of the city" (p. 59). In 1271 the old dispute broke 


out again in the election of mayor, and the record 
of this is very instructive (pp. 154-156), though 
perhaps unnecessary to quote here. 

In these curious and instructive passages I cannot 
doubt that we have a record of the final chapters 
of the history of the Teutonic folkmoot in London. 
Its name, its place of meeting, its popular form, its 
formula of "Yea, yea," or "Nay, nay," 1 all pro- 
claim its primitive origin. But then, under what 
circumstances do we see it with these evident 
signs of its historical origin ? There are by its 
side "the discreet men of the city." We have 
never met with it, either before the date of these 
records we have quoted, or afterwards, as the 
dominant power of the city, impressing its forms and 
ceremonies, its political system, its derivative forces, 
upon the municipal history of the city. It was never 
powerful ; it was only fitful. And we may well ask 
why the Teutonic conqueror who met in his folk- 
moot, without let or hindrance, deferred in municipal 
government to another body, separate and distinct 
from it? The answer I am inclined to seek in the 
masterful influence of the Romans of London, whose 
prowess, ingenuity, commercial acumen, and political 
insight, managed to keep at bay in some places the 
barbarism of Teutonic conquest. 

Other subjects of municipal internal polity claim 
attention at this juncture. At the election of chief 
magistrate in Teutonic communities many curious 
and significant customs were observed, chiefly in 
connection with the old religion. In early days, 

1 Cf. Freeman, Comparative Politics, cap v. 


when a village was first established, a stone was set 
up. To this stone the head man of the village made 
an offering once a year. 1 Of the many traces of this 
custom in England I will not speak here, but of its 
survival as a London municipal custom there exists 
some curious evidence accidentally preserved, and 
it relates to London Stone. Holinshed tells us that 
when Cade in 1450 forced his way into London he 
first of all proceeded to London Stone, and, having 
struck his sword upon it, said : " Now is Mortimer 
{i.e. Cade) lord of this city." Pennant in 1793 was 
the first to note that this act was something more 
than meaningless nonsense, 2 but it was reserved for 
Mr Coote to put it in its true place as a fragment 
of municipal folk-lore. 3 He points out that Holinshed 
attached a meaning to it, and that the crowd of 
Londoners who witnessed it must have attached a 
meaning to it. Well, what was that meaning? It 
is almost lost to us in London municipal custom. 
We find that London Stone entered into municipal 
legal procedure, as when a defendant in the lord 
mayor's court had to be summoned from that spot, 
and when proclamations and other important business 
of the like nature took place there ; 4 but there is 

1 For examples, see Indian Antiquary, ii. 66 ; Biddulph, Tales of the 
Hindoo Koosh, 105-107, 114 ; Forbes Leslie, Early Races of Scotland, 

ii. 497- 

1 Some Account of London, 4. 

3 London and Middlesex Archaeological Society, v. 282. 

4 Brandon, Customary Law of Foreign Attachment, 6 ; and Lord 
Mayor's Court of the City of London, 14. In Pasquill and Marfxrius, 
1589, two passages occur which illustrates this point. "Set up this bill 
at London Stone. Let it be doone sollemly with drom and trumpet and 
looke you advance my cullour, on the top of the steeple right over against 


no direct clue to the action of Cade and its consequent 
association of London Stone with an archaic Teutonic 
custom. Yet if we turn to a parallel municipal custom 
elsewhere we shall find the clue we are in search of. 
On the mayor's day at Bovey Tracy the mayor used 
to ride round the stone-cross and strike it with a 
stick. 1 This significant action proclaimed the authority 
of the mayor of Bovey, and it is not difficult to trans- 
late this curious parallel into the explanation needed 
to solve the old municipal custom at London Stone. 
But it will be noted that while at Bovey Tracy the 
custom obtains almost the force of a municipal law, 
in London it had sank so low in its scale of import- 
ance as only to have been rescued from oblivion by 
the record of the acts of a rebel. 

I can refer back at this point to what has already 
been said about the position of London Stone in 
relation to the earlier Roman London. If it was 
held in some degree of veneration by the citizens 
of Roman London when first the Anglo - Saxons 
entered into London to claim her alliance in the 
struggle they were engaged in, against a common 
enemy, there is nothing in Anglo - Saxon thought 
to prevent that degree of reverence being sustained, 
and when the Anglo-Saxon kings claimed London as 
part of their state organisation and Anglo-Saxon 
citizens of London entered into her new life, the 
endowment of London Stone with a new sacredness, 

it," and " if it please them these dark winter nights to sticke uppe their 
papers uppon London Stone." Quoted in J. T. Smith's Streets of London, 
ii. 307. 

1 Ormerod, Archccology of Eastern Dartmoor, II. 


a sacredness derived from ancient Teutonic rite and 
ceremony, would naturally follow. This, it seems to 
me, is the true position of London Stone in London 
history, and it not only reflects back to the earliest 
Roman origin of London, but contains the newer 
element of Saxon life, the two conditions being thus 
brought into definite juxtaposition. 

I have another remarkable custom to mention in 
connection with this stone-worship, if it may be so 
designated. In the Totnes Times, of 13th May 
1882, is an account of the customs adopted on 
mayor's Monday at Bovey Tracy, which gives us 
the additional piece of information, unnoticed by Mr 
Ormerod in the book above quoted, that young men 
were induced to kiss the magic stone, pledging 
allegiance in upholding ancient rights and privileges. 
In Dublin the custom of kissing the " lucky stone" 
in the city was long kept up. Edinburgh too has 
its stone custom. 1 In London there is a remarkable 
survival of such a custom, though it is not identified 
with London Stone. In Bagford's Letter to Hearne* 
there is related how the porters at Billingsgate " used 
civilly to intreat and desire every man that passed 
that way to salute a post that stood there in a vacant 
space. If he quietly submitted to kiss the same, 
and paid down 6d., then they gave him a name, and 
chose some one of the gang to be his godfather." 
Now, in these curious relics of old London life we 

1 Notes and Queries, v. 377, for the Dublin custom of kissing the 
lucky stone; and Guthrie, Old Scottish Customs. 41, for the Edinburgh 
custom of bumping every new burgess against a stone. 

2 See Heaine, Leland's Itinerary, i. p. lxxiv. 


have stumbled upon a set of facts altogether outside 
the municipal formularies of Roman London. That 
they are hidden among the popular customs, as 
distinct from municipal law, proclaims that they had 
been ousted from their official place by a power that 
we must recognise to be Roman, but that they 
exist at all shows that they owed their origin to a 
power which we must recognise as extremely archaic, 
and therefore Teutonic. 

Other facts about the chief magistrate are equally 
important as indicating the origin of the ceremonial. 
A copy of a letter exists among the archives of 
London, dated about 1582, written by the Lord Mayor 
to the Lord Chancellor, and complaining : 

" that when he (the Lord Mayor) attended to take his 
oath without the Tower Gate, he had Her Majesty's sword 
carried before him in the streets, as had been the custom 
to carry it in Westminster Hall until they came to the 
bar of Her Majesty's Court, when the sword was reversed 
by the sword-bearer as in the presence of Her Majesty ; and 
so it had intended to be done when arriving at the place 
where the Lieutenant sat as had been the custom. They 
were met at the corner of Tower Street by two of the warders, 
who commanded Her Majesty's sword to be holden down, 
and pressed violently to take it down, but through good 
discretion of the Recorder they were peaceably holden off." x 

Later on, in 1633, a similar dispute took place 
with reference to the right of the Lord Mayor to 
have the sword borne up before him within St. Paul's 
Cathedral, and " especially within the choir." 2 Now 
this right was also defended by another important 

1 Remembrancia, 342. 

2 Ibid. 328. 


and ancient corporation, namely, Chester, and it 
carries us further back into antiquity than the date 
of the dispute. It does not owe its origin to any 
charter, but existed as one of the popular privileges 
of self-governing communities long before the era of 
charters. This is shown by the curious analogy 
which exists in a self-governing community whose 
origin and practice is admittedly archaic. One of 
the ceremonies incidental to the great folk-meeting 
on Tynwald Hill, in the Isle of Man, was accord- 
ing " to the constitution of old time," that the lord 
should " sitt in a chaire . . . with the sword before 
him holden with the point upwards." 1 It should 
not be forgotten that here we have a typical 
ceremony of the election of the tribal chiefs of 
primitive communities, and the parallel to municipal 
custom is not too far apart to admit of the con- 
clusion, that in this example of old municipal custom 
we have a survival from old tribal custom. 

The sheriffs of London had, in old times, a post 
before their doors, upon which it was customary 
to affix proclamations ; this was one of the indications 
of their office, and is referred to in the following 
verses : 

"I hope my acquaintance goes in chains of gold — the posts 
of his gate are a painting too." Dekker, Honest Whore. 

" If e'er I live to see thee sheriff of London, 
I'll gild thy painted posts." Rowley, New Wonder (1632). 2 

11 Posts without door indeed to make a show at a new chosen 
magistrate's gate." Beaumont and Fletcher, Widow. 

1 Train, History of the Isle of Man, ii. 188. 

2 Toone, English Glossary, 370, s.v. " Post." 


Mr Repton has noted this custom, and has given 
drawings of very handsome posts which were in 
situ at Elm Hill, Norwich, and he notes that it 
was usual out of respect to read the proclamations 
fastened on the sheriff's post bareheaded. 1 These 
notes of an obscure but interesting custom take us, 
I am convinced, to Roman usage, and it is well to 
have them recorded with the other relics of custom 
and usage which illustrate our subject. 

We may turn from ceremonial to legal custom and 
practice. In the statement of London laws which 
Miss Bateson unearthed and edited is one of special 
interest : 

" If it happen within a fortnight one of the witnesses dies, 
the one that survives shall prove the dead man's evidence on 
oath, and for this purpose he shall be taken to the tomb of 
the dead man, and there he shall swear that if the dead man 
were living he would bear his testimony." 2 

This remarkable custom is more than once referred 
to in the charters of boroughs modelled on London as 
one which they must not imitate, and it was abrogated 
in London itself by the charter of Henry III. in 1268. 
Now not only is this custom clearly not Roman in 
origin, but it is as clearly Teutonic and pagan 
Teutonic. The ghost of the dead seems to be 
conceived of as haunting the tomb and sanctioning 
or rejecting the oath of the living, and Miss Bateson, 
who thus correctly understands the archaic construction 
of this law, goes on very properly to compare it with 

1 Archceologia, xix. 383-385, Dodsley, Plays, iii. 

2 Miss Bateson, Eng. Hist. Rev. xvii. 488, 493 : Riley, Chronicles of 
London, 108. 


its parallel in Welsh law, 1 and in Manx law, 2 and to 
the Saxon laws of Ine, 3 by which an oath was given 
on the tomb of the dead slave-buyer to prove that 
the slave was honestly bought. 

Miss Bateson thinks "it is strange to find in 
thirteenth - century London this curious trace of 
primitive mythology," 4 but I think in juxtaposition 
with what has already been noticed of Teutonic 
custom this strangeness disappears. There are 
companions to it. Among the punishments for 
offences against the laws is that of drowning. At 
Execution Dock the criminals were in the eighteenth 
century executed on a temporary gallows placed at 
low-water mark, but the custom of leaving the body 
to be overflowed by three tides "has long since been 
omitted." 5 It appears to me that this curious practice 
bears upon the face of it the character of an archaic 
survival, and something which indicates a Teutonic 
origin ; and it is an important fact to notice that the 
transitional form mentioned by Pennant can be 
proved to have originated from actual practice. 
Thus in the first volume of the Codex Diplo- 
matics is a record of a woman who, being condemned 
to death for aiming at the life of a nobleman, was 
executed by drowning on London Bridge in the 
middle of the tenth century. 6 A singular prerogative, 
belonging to the castellan of Baynard's Castle, con- 

1 Ancient Laws of Wales, i. 431. 

2 Old Historians of Isle of Man (Manx Society, 1871), 24. 
a Thorpe, Ancient Laws and Inst. 59, 123. 

* Eng. Hist. Rev. xvii. 489. 

6 Pennant, Some Account of London, 324. 

6 Kemble, Cod. Dip. No. dxcl. 


sisted in the fact that, if any traitor was taken within 
his soke, or jurisdiction, it was his duty to sentence 
him to death by drowning, in conformity wherewith 
the offender was bound to a pillar in the Thames, 
used for mooring vessels, at Woodwharf, near Bay- 
nard's Castle, and left there two floods and two ebbs 
of the tide. 1 We read also, in the Liber de Antiquis 
Legibus, that in the year 1266, while the Earl of 
Gloucester was treating for peace with Henry III. at 
Westminster, certain of his partisans pillaged many 
of the citizens of London, and slew one of their 
number ; whereupon the Earl had four of the 
offenders seized, bound hand and foot, thrown into 
the Thames, and drowned. And such, the chronicler 
adds, was the judgment passed during all this period 
upon those who were condemned. 2 I should like to 
lay stress upon the importance of this evidence, 
because it is an example, all too seldom found, of a 
modern custom meeting its true explanation and 
significance by a reference to ancient custom, and 
it thus illustrates the correctness of the principle I 
have followed in less certain cases. These things 
do not originate in the days of charters and Acts of 
Parliament, and we see here an old custom passing 
away into oblivion. There can be no doubt, I think, 
that it represents the old punishment by drowning, 
an undoubted Teutonic and Scandinavian custom. 3 
There are other modes of punishment in London 

1 See Stow, Survey of London, Thorns' edit. 25. 

2 Cf. Riley, Liber Cust. (Introduction), lxxxiii.-lxxxiv ; Chronicles of 
the Mayors and Sheriffs of London, 97. 

3 See Hampson, Origines Patricice, 104-105 ; Grimm, Deutsche 
Rechtsaltherthiimer, 696-699. 


which take us back to the tribal life of our Teutonic 
ancestors. In the Chronicle of the Mayors and 
Sheriffs of London we read of the bakers, ''whose 
bread did not weigh according to the assay of the 
city, not being placed in the pillory, as they used to 
be, but at the will of the Justiciar and Earl exalted 
in the tumbril, against the ancient usage of the city 
and all the realm " (p. 43). There were two pillories 
in London; one stood in Cheapside, and in 1269 we 
read, in the above-named Chronicle (p. 127), it was 
out of repair. 

A curious legal custom is mentioned by Aubrey as 
still obtaining in London during his day, he having 
observed one instance. If an unmarried man was 
capitally condemned, he was pardoned if a woman 
begged for his release, upon condition that he married 
her. 1 This is old Teutonic law, and the marriage 
dower being given at the church door 2 is also traceable 
to the same source. 

Now the special point I wish to urge about these 
items of forgotten London custom is that they do not 
exist in any of the recognised collections of city law. 
They have never been codified, never been able to 
lift themselves beyond the position of municipal usage. 
I have collected them from all sorts of places, and 
have had to piece them together in a kind of patch- 
work, with no chronological basis of connection 
between them. Archaeologically they present us 
with a fair field of observation, because they belong 
to one era of archaic society, but before the tribune 

1 Aubrey, Rcmaines of Gentilisme and Judaismc, 126. 

2 Close Rolls, 3 Edward /, Calendar, 487. 


of historical succession they have been found want- 
ing ; and, I think, we may look for the explanation 
in the incomplete fashion in which the Saxons had 
acquired London. They entered it, but they did 
not conquer it. They governed it, but they did not 
dictate the methods. They introduced their own 
customs for their own people ; but they left the laws 
of the Roman landowners to those who had always 
been governed by them. Theirs was a personal not 
a local law, the outcome of their tribal polity in 
contrast to the imperial polity of Rome. 1 In this 
way we account for the position of the two sets of 
custom and law ; the Saxon customs always custom 
and not law, the Roman law always authoritative 
and not merely customary ; the Saxon customs fight- 
ing for recognition, the Roman law fighting for 
supremacy ; the Saxons establishing their open-air 
folkmoot at St Paul's, the Roman landowners 
maintaining their smaller but more powerful council 
in their council chamber or their Guildhall. The 
whole of the facts and conditions are remarkable, 
and the only key which seems to me to be capable 
of unlocking the hidden story is that we have here 
the true battle - ground of Roman and Saxon in 
London. I do not, of course, say that we have here 
actually Roman as opposed to actually Saxon. The 
Roman had no doubt long been absorbed, but he 
left successors to Roman ways and policy, of Saxon, 
or Celtic, or other blood, and these successors fought 
for the system which they preferred to live under as 

1 Cf. Kemble, Saxons in England, i. 190 ; Palgrave, Hist. Eng. 
Com. i. 550, 


strongly as they would have done if they had been 
inheritors of it from a long line of ancestors. 

These facts show us London under a new aspect 
altogether — an unconquered London, but no longer 
a Roman London ; a London governed by the new 
English and Danish monarchs of Britain, changing 
its life to suit the new order of things, but keeping 
up so much of its old life as would make it still a 
power in the land ; a London standing gallantly by 
^Ethelstan, Alfred, and Eadmund, and even ^thelred; 
accepting Cnut as it had accepted former overlords 
because the rest of the land had so decided. In 
994 the Chronicle says : 

" came Olave and Sweyn to London with 94 ships ; and they 
then continued fighting stoutly against the city, and would 
also have set fire to it, but they there sustained more harm 
and evil than they ever supposed that any citizens would 
be able to do unto them." 

It was ever so. A Roman city, at last clothed 
with an English dress, but still governed as Roman 
London was governed by an outside sovereignty — 
a city not yet quite fused with the state. 


It is clear then that the London of the Saxon 
period was a Roman city with a difference, and the 
difference was due to the settlement of the Saxons all 
round London. My next point is to ascertain some 
of the most important features of this settlement, 
as it may be read into the history of London. The 


first important feature rests upon the fact that their 
primitive institutions, their principle of settlement, not 
only did not include the area of the city, but, strangely 
enough, deliberately excluded it. It is an important 
point to establish this, and it can be done through 
the agency of the manors surrounding London, 
manors being the political successors of the older 
tribal settlements. 

" There were manors everywhere," are Mr 
Seebohm's significant words, 1 but they stopped short 
at the boundary of London. They existed all round 
London, but they never extended beyond the city 
boundary into the city territory ; they never extended 
from the country into the city. Up to the city 
boundary, Middlesex on the west, north, and east, 
Kent and Surrey on the south, were, like the rest 
of the country, parcelled out into manors. But 
nowhere do we find a trace of the manor in the 
constitution of early London. This is not the case 
in other municipal towns. I cannot answer for each 
case, but I know that in very many of the municipal 
towns of England the element of the manor enters 
into the municipal constitution, and helps to form it 
upon the English basis. In London it is never so. 
Even the Bishop of London's lands, and the lands 
belonging to the Cathedral of St Paul's, begin outside 
the boundary of the city and stretch into Surrey in 
one long string of manors, while small manors of 
late creation, like that of Paris Garden in Southwark 
and the Savoy in the Strand, testify to the principle 
of manorialisation going on, even in the parts most 

1 Village Community, 82. 


nearly connected with the city. All round London, 
in point of fact, edging London in, are manors of 
the ordinary English type. 

Look at the long narrow parishes, Camberwell 
and Lambeth on the south, stretching from the river 
to the hills ; Fulham l and Kensington on the west, 
stretching from the river to the hills ; Paddington and 
Islington, long narrow parishes on the north, stretch- 
ing from the Roman road to the hills of the north. 
These are typical English settlements, the like of 
which are to be found all over England in so uniform 
a type as to have attracted the notice both of the 
economist and the geologist. 2 And then in details 
all round London a few years ago were lammas 
lands, lands enclosed from spring time to ist August 
for pasture, and then thrown open for all the 
inhabitants. These lammas lands are pure relics of 
the Teutonic village system, and in modern days at 
Hackney, Fulham and elsewhere, the ancient rights 
have been bought up and converted into people's 
lands for ever. One has only to consult old London 
maps to discover easily in various parts the long 
acre-strips of ancient arable lands which distinguished 
London before the building of the houses and which 
determine the position and site of houses to this 
day. Thus at Putney all the houses facing the 
river are so built that the ancient strips upon 
which they are built are still plainly discoverable, 
two or three houses being built in one group, and 

1 Fulham originally included Hammersmith, which as a separate 
parish only dates from the seventeenth century. 

2 See Mr Topley's valuable article in Journ. Anthrop. Inst. iii. 32 ; 
Marshall, Rural Economy of the Southern Counties, ii. 307-308, 


then two or three in another group, a little in 
advance or a little behind the first group. Where - 
ever indeed these curious zigzag lines of frontages 
exist, we may be sure that in some form or another 
we are noting the ancient acre-strips of a Teutonic 
village community. They appear in Park Lane, and 
add in my opinion to the picturesqueness of that 
most picturesque part of modern London. These lines 
of frontage were never drawn by an architect full of 
a building scheme for a single owner, such as we get 
in Regent Street, Bedfordbury, and other estates ; 
they were drawn by separate owners of ancient 
acre-strips who had come to possess in independent 
ownership acre-strips that were once yearly allotted, 
and who built their modern property upon the ancient 
cultivating sites of Teutonic settlements. 1 

There is nothing of this kind within the city 
boundaries. It is true that in the thirteenth century 
we have manorial jurisdictions set up in the city, 
but they are separated off from the manorial system 
of extra London by long periods of history, and by 
an absolute difference in kind. They agree but in 
name. They are not manors economically in- 
dependent, occupying stretches of territory and con- 
taining cultivators with ancient rights. They are 
simply baronial jurisdictions of a special kind, which 

1 The student should consult Horwood's Plan of London, 1792, to see 
the acre-strips marked in Bethnal Green, Old Kent Road, and other 
districts, The Nezv Map of the Country round London, 1796, for the 
" Battersea common field" and for acre-strips at Lambeth, Peckham, 
and elsewhere. Perhaps the most vivid indication of the communal 
acre-strips is that which the contemporary chronicler placed before 
the dying eyes of Edward the Confessor at Westminster, and which 
Mr Seebohm so acutely explains. (Seebohm, Village Community, 99.) 


got to be called manors, because the term manor 
was the mediaeval ideal to which the lords of 
jurisdictions looked ; and their extents do not run 
over both intramural and extramural lands, but are 
entirely confined within the walls. 1 

The distinction between the so-called manors of 
the city, and the real manors outside the city is 

1 Mr Maitland succinctly sums up the conception of a manor by 
the ordinary man of the thirteenth century, " when men spoke of a 
manor they thought primarily of a single group of tenants who worked in 
common at their ploughings and their reapings." {Select Pleas of Manor 
Rolls, xl.) It has often been stated that the manorial system was extant 
in London. I agree it was to some extent created by the Norman grants 
of sokes, and on this I shall presently have to say something further, 
but the manorial system did not form the basis of London organisation. 
It has too been said that the title "Lord Mayor" comes from his 
lordship of the manors. If so, it comes from the manors he held in 
the country for the city, and it is late. Thus Mr St. John Hope 
communicated to the Times, ioth November 1901, some extracts 
from the minute books of the Court of Aldermen and the Court 
of Common Council, from which it seems that down to about 
1540 the Chief Magistrate was invariably styled Mayor — e.g., 1512, 
"late Mayres of this Citee " ; 1518, "the mayor and sheryfTes" ; 1522, 
"Mundy nowe mayor," "the Mayer of this Citie " ; 1524, "the mayer," 
"the olde Mayor"; 1525, " Aleyn electe mayre" ; 1537, "the newe 
Mayre elect." There are, however, instances as early as 15 19 where he 
is referred to as "my lorde mayr," but seemingly in the same way as we 
speak of " my lord bishop" or "my lord the King," for the same entry 
that refers to him as "my lorde mayr' nowe beyng" continues "as well 
as all other mayres his successours." After 1540 the use of the term 
"Lord Mayor" becomes general, e.g., 1542, "every lorde mayers 
house"; 1545, "the lorde mayers of the same Cytie" ; 1546, "the 
lorde Mayor," etc. The old form, however, is still to be found 
occasionally, as in the will of Sir John Alen, dated 1545 : 

" I will that the Lorde Mayre of London for the tyme being shalhave 
my Collor of SS to use and occupie yerely at and uppon principall and 
festevall dayes, and the same to remayne to hym and his successours 
mayres for the same effecte. So that the same mayre and his 
successours, etc. . . . And I wille that the saide maire and chamber, etc." 
On the question of tenure in London, see Norton, History and 
Franchises of the City of London, 67-71. 


emphasized, I think, by the omission of London 
from the Domesday survey. There is a blank 
space of considerable length at the head of the 
survey at Middlesex. 1 Now for this survey the unit 
of enquiry is everywhere the manor, and the con- 
dition of the burghs is sometimes brought within this 
formula, it appears to me, rather forcefully. The 
omission of London from the Domesday record is 
generally accounted for as an accident, perhaps 
caused by loss of the precious manuscript. 2 What 
if it were something more than this — more than this 
in two directions? If London was sufficiently power- 
ful to say nay to William's commissioners, or 
sufficiently rich to buy immunity from their enquiry, 
it need not surprise us. If London was sufficiently 
different from every other city in the kingdom, to 
make it impossible for the formula, quot villani, quot 
cotarii, quot servi? to be asked of its economical 
conditions, it would not surprise any one who has 
followed the arguments advanced in these pages. 
Either of these conditions would account for the 
omission of London from Domesday ; both of them 
combined would account for the omission, and it 
appears to me they supply a more substantial reason, 
than one depending upon mere palseographical con- 
ditions. I think the omission of London from 
Domesday not an accident but a necessity. 4 

1 Ballard, The Domesday Boroughs, 9. 

2 The omissions from Domesday are London, Winchester, Bristol, 
Tamworth, Hastings, Romney, and Hythe. 

3 The Domesday formula is discussed by Bishop Stubbs in Con- 
stitutional History, i. 385-387. 

4 Mr Round is inclined to this view, for he says of the omission of 
Winchester that it is perhaps " as in the case of London a tribute to the 


Not one of the manors outside London penetrates 
over the London boundary into the city. The 
manorial boundaries, extra London, are also the 
city boundaries. Whatever may be called manors 
in the city are separated by this boundary into 
a different class. There may be jurisdictions in 
London which call themselves manors, but they are 
not as the extra- London manors. These are of the 
ordinary type of English manor with their courts, their 
common fields, their lammas lands, their pastures, 
and their woods. But the so - called city manors 
have none of these things. This is a significant fact, 
and it must mean something of importance. If 
London was able to keep out the manorial organisa- 
tion it was because it had another organisation 
opposed to the manor in principle, and powerful 
enough to hold its own. Already we have seen 
that the lands of London were not held upon a 
definite system capable of being traced to Anglo- 
Saxon origin, and we shall see later on what kind 
of manor there was nominally in London, and how 
it arose. What we have to note now is the 
fact that manorial organisation formed no part 
of London government, and that outside London — 
immediately outside on its boundaries — it was the 
only organisation for local government. I think in 

greatness of its position." {Victoria County History of Hampshire, i. 432.) 
London is mentioned incidentally in Domesday, for thirteen burgesses of 
London are recorded to have belonged to the manor of Bermondsey, 
and nineteen belonged to the church of Lambeth. (Ellis, Introduction to 
Domesday, ii. 205.) Burghers of London are attached to Barestead and 
Bletchingley in Surrey, to Waltham and Thurrock in Essex, and twenty- 
eight houses in London belonged to the manor of Barking. (Maitland, 
Domesday and Beyond, 114, 180 ; Ballard, The Domesday Boroughs, 18.) 


this we possess further testimony to the special 
position held by London in the Anglo-Saxon con- 
stitution. We have in this important conclusion 
brought the evidence of Roman London into line 
with the evidence as to the Anglo-Saxon settlement 
round London. It is confirmatory of both lines of 
argument that when they are brought into touch 
they run parallel to each other, and not across each 
other ; they tell the same story from their different 
standpoints. In so complicated a matter, dealing 
with so much detail, and having to rely upon a mass 
of imperfect information from such different sources, 
it is an extremely important result to have reached 
parallel conclusions from two opposite standpoints. 

The Anglo-Saxon tribal system in its latest form 
of the English manor, practically leaving London 
hemmed in by it but not making it part of it, will 
be better understood when we have examined a 
more primitive form of the tribal system attaching 
to Anglo-Saxon kingship, which, as it happens, is 
well illustrated from London evidence. We have seen 
Anglo-Saxon kings assume titles and adopt formularies 
which can be carried back to Roman origins, and 
which owe their existence to the fact that Anglo- 
Saxon kings in addition to being kings of the Anglo- 
Saxon tribes, were also sovereign lords of Celtic 
Britons and of British cities. Fortunately their 
Roman titles and formularies did not affect their 
English kingship, which was expressed in terms of 
tribal polity, was an elective not a hereditary position, 
and was inaugurated by traditional ceremonial rites of 
the tribe. All over the kingdom are to be found 


remains or evidence of the ancient places of assembly, 
not held in the great cities left by the Romans, but in 
the open air by the side of a sacred stream, under a 
sacred oak, at a great stone monolith, on a mound 
raised for the purpose. It is really remarkable that 
these tribal relics should have remained so long in 
our midst, and there is one very important symbol 
of Anglo - Saxon tribal sovereignty known to most 
Londoners, namely, the King's Stone in Surrey, on 
the banks of the Thames, round which has grown up 
the modern town of Kingston. The site of this great 
stone is marked by a monument after modern taste 
and style, but the rude unsculptured stone upon which 
the Saxon kings were crowned formerly stood against 
the old Town Hall, in the market-place, until it was 
most sacrilegiously removed in 1837. 1 

Kingston, in a charter of King Eadred, of the 
year 946, is termed " the royal township where con- 
secration is accustomed to be performed." 2 Eadward 
the Elder was crowned there in 900, 3 ^thelstan in 
925/ Eadmund in 940, 5 Eadred in 946, 6 Eadwin in 
955/ Eadward the Martyr in 975,* and /Ethelred in 
978. No doubt the authorities for these cases are 

1 Brayley {History of Surrey, iii. 5); Gent. Mas;. 1850, iii. 380-381, 
records the removal. 

2 Cyngestun ubi consecratio peracta est. (Kemble, Cod. Dip. ii. 268, 
No. ccccxi.) 

8 Ralph de Diceto, Chron. i. 452. 

4 Florence of Worcester, Chron. i. 130. 

6 Ralph de Diceto, Chron. i. 454. 6 Kemble, Cod. Dip. ii. 268. 

7 Florence of Worcester, Chron. i. 136 ; Roger of Wendover, Flores 
Hist. i. 404. 

8 Ralph de Diceto, Chron. i. 458. 

9 Roger of Wendover, Flores Hist. i. 421. 


not all of equal value, but there is no doubt whatever 
of the general fact of Kingston being a coronation 
stone of the Saxon kings. 1 

These facts show that within 15 miles of London 
the ancient tribal methods of electing Anglo- 
Saxon kings were continued to the latest times of 
the Anglo-Saxon period. Of itself this would be a 
significant fact, but it becomes still more so when 
it is found that the rite at Kingston was repeated 
almost under the walls of London. Kingston is 
valuable to us to show from undoubted early evidence 
that the kings of the Anglo-Saxon tribes were elected 
and that the rite took place in the open air upon a 
sacred stone. That another election place existed 
nearer London is only a phase of tribal kingship 
which might be expected to occur, and although we 
cannot fix upon it with the historical certainty that 
Kingston possesses, we can, with the aid of the 
Kingston example before us, trace out its former 
existence and the causes of its disappearance in the 
primitive form. This investigation will bring us very 
closely indeed into touch with that phase of the history 
of London which is now before us. 

Mr Kemble has compiled a useful record of many 
of the meeting-places of the Anglo-Saxon witen- 
agemot. 2 One of the most celebrated of these places 
was " Clofesho," and considerable discussion has taken 
place as to its exact locality. Bishop Stubbs, in 
suggesting the reasons which may have led to the 

1 A useful summary of the whole evidence is given in Gent. Mag. 
1851, ii. 125-130. 

2 Saxons in England, ii. 241-261. 


ultimate distinction of Westminster as the meeting- 
place of the national assembly, a distinction which 
dates not from William the Norman, but from Edward 
the Confessor, points out the gradual growth of 
national sentiment which typifies the continuity of 
national life, and adds this important suggestion: 

" It is possible that under the new name of Westminster 
were hidden some of the traditions of the old English places 
of councils, of Chelsea, or even of the lost Clovesho." " 

I should like to substitute for the qualification of 
" possible " that of " probable." Assemblies were held 
at Clovesho, in a.d. 742, 747, 803, 804, 824, and 825, 
and at Chelsea (CealchyS) in a.d. 799, 815 and 996. 
Mr Kemble decides Clovesho to be in Gloucester, 2 
but it is singular that the document he specially relies 
upon for evidence of this relates to a trial for lands in 
Gloucestershire, wherein "the whole business apper- 
tained to Westminster." The council is that of 804, 
and was held "in loco, qui dicitur Clofeshoh, cum 
libris et ruris, id est, set Westmynster." 3 These 
councils were held during the supremacy of Mercia, 
and though we cannot go any further in the iden- 
tification of Clovesho, the archaic place of meeting, 
with Westminster, the historical place of meeting, 
it is worth while drawing attention to the curious 
facts which to some extent connect the two places. 

1 Constitutional History of England, iii. 382. Cf. Plummer, Beda % 
11. 214. 

2 Saxons in England, ii. 191, note. 

3 Mr W. de Gray Birch says of this, "probably Westbury, co. 
Gloucester"; but there is no evidence beyond conjecture. See 
Cartularium Saxonicum, 438. 

----- -.-,.' 



Tothill Fields, 


They form the preface to important facts in the 
history of Westminster itself. The first of these is 
the existence of a "Tothill" there. It survives now 
in the name Tothill Street. Mr Loftie describes it as 
a slight eminence rising in the midst of a wilderness 
of marsh, and upon which the old road, the Watling 
Street, ran to the water's edge. 1 It may be a point 
worth bearing in mind that Tothill fields were used 
as the place for judicial combats, the last example 
occurring in the reign of Elizabeth. 2 This fact 

1 History of London, ii. 34. The significance of this name as 
indicating an early settlement, has been discussed in Notes and Queries, 
2nd ser. vol. viii. et seq., and in Mr Streatfeild's Lincolnshire and 
the Danes, no; and there is some considerable warrant for sup- 
posing it a sign of Danish influence. 

2 The Elizabethan case is extremely curious and may well be quoted 
here. It was in Trinity term, 13 Eliz., Lowe and Kyme against Paramour : 
" One Chevin seised of the land in demand in the island of Hartey, in 
the county of Kent, and for the assurance levied a fine to him ; in 
conusance of which fine was taken before Sir Robert Brook Chief- 
Justice of the Bench. And because he doubted of the age of Chevin, 
he took certain examinations, etc., by which he appeared to be of full 
age. And in the same term that the fine was levied, Chevin brought 
his writ of error, and assigned the error in B. R. on his nonage ; and 
upon that had a scire facias to the sheriff of Kent against Paramour the 
conusee and terre-tenant, upon which a nihil habet nee est inventus, etc., 
was returned ; whereupon issued an alias scire facias ; upon which the 
sheriff returned another nihil, etc., and upon this return the court pro- 
ceeded upon the examination of the error : and as well by the inspection 
of the person of the plaintiff as by the testimony of four lawful and trusty 
men the court adjudged him within age. And in the next term the fine 
was reversed for this cause. And afterwards at the full age of Chevin 
he sold the land to Lowe and Kyme ; and they by feoffment of Chevin 
were put into possession ; but Paramour would not quit, but continued 
his possession. And by suit in the Chancery commenced by Paramour, 
they went to issue upon the age of Chevin, etc. And the age of 21 
years was proved by witnesses at the time of the fine levied. Afterwards 
Lowe and Kyme brought a writ of entry in the nature of assise against 
Paramour ; judgment was given that the plaintiffs take nothing by their 
writ, etc., whereby they were barred and brought attaint against Paramour 


distinctly points back to Scandinavian influences, 
for the holmgang is well known to students of the 

and the petit jury. Grand jury affirmed the first verdict and it was given 
in evidence, that notwithstanding the nonage the land was gavelkind, 
and might be sold by the owner at the age of 16 years, so the first 
verdict was affirmed and the demandents barred in the attaint. Upon 
this the demandents brought a writ of right, and counted upon their 
own seisin in the time of Philip and Mary (?). Paramour chose trial by 
battle and his champion was one George Thorne ; and the demandents 
e contra and their champion was one Henry Nailer a master of defence. 
The Court awarded the battle, and the champions were sworn to perform 
the battle at Tothill in Westminster on the Monday next after the morrow 
of the Trinity which was the first day after the utas of the Term ; at 
which day a list was made in an even and level piece of ground, set out 
square, sixty feet each side due east west north and south, and a place 
or seat for the judges of the Bench was made without and above the lists, 
and covered with the furniture of the same Bench in Westminster Hall, 
and a bar made there for the Serjeants at law. And about the tenth 
hour of the same day three Justices of the Bench, Dyer, Weston and 
Harper, Welshe being absent on account of sickness, repaired to the 
place in their robes of scarlet with the appurtenances and coifs ; and 
the Serjeants also. And there public proclamation being three times 
made with an oyes, the demandents first were solemnly called and did 
not come. After which the mainpernors of the champion were called, 
to produce the champion of the demandents first, who came into the 
place apparelled in red sandals over armour of leather, bare-legged 
from the knee downward, and bareheaded, and bare arms to the elbow, 
being brought in by the hand of a knight, namely Sir Jerome Bowes, 
who carried a red baston of an ell long tipped with horn, and a yeoman 
carrying a target made of double leather ; and they were brought in at 
the north side of the lists, and went about the side of the lists until the 
middest of the lists, and then came towards the bar before the justices 
with three solemn congies, and there was he made to stand at the fourth 
side of the place, being the right side of the court ; and after that, the 
other champion was brought in like manner at the south side of the 
lists, with like congies, etc., by the hands of Sir Henry Cheney, Knight, 
etc., and was set on the north side of the bar ; and two Serjeants being 
of counsel of each party in the midst between them : this done the 
demandent was solemnly called again, and appeared not, but made 
default ; upon which default Barham, serjeant for the tenant, prayed the 
Court to record the nonsuit ; which was done. And then Dyer, Chief 
Justice reciting the writ, count and issue, joined upon battle, and the oath 


We proceed from this to the second point, showing 
the connection of Westminster with the Danes. They 
were at large in Middlesex, and London Wall kept 
them out of the city, but there was nothing to with- 
stand them on Thorney. 1 Professor Worsaae has 
described the traces of influence which the Danes 
have left upon the topography of London, 2 but if 
I mistake not, he has left out of consideration 
the most lasting of their memorials, namely, one 
of the most important duties of the old assemblies, 
the election of the monarch. In Denmark the cere- 
mony took a special form. The election of a king 
of Denmark was in ancient times commonly held in 
this solemn manner : As many of the nobles as were 
senators, and had power to give their votes, agreed 
upon some convenient place in the fields, where, 
seating themselves in a circle upon so many great 
stones, they gave their votes. This done, they 
placed their newly-elected monarch upon a stone 
higher than the rest, either in the middle of the 
circle or at some small distance at one side, and 
saluted him king. 3 Now I am going to suggest that 
a convenient place in the fields was found at Thorney, 

of the champions to perform it, and the fixing of the day and place, gave 
final judgment against the demandents, and that the tenant should hold 
the land to him and his heirs for ever, quit of the said demandents and 
their heirs for ever, and the demandents and their pledges to prosecute, 
in the Queen's mercy, etc. And then solemn proclamation was made, 
that the champions and all others there present (who were by estimation 
above four thousand persons) should depart, every man in the peace of 
God and the Queen. And they did so, cum magno clamore ' Vivat 
Regina.'" {Dyer's Reports, 301^-302^:.) 

1 Loftie, History of London, ii. 35. 

2 Account of Danes and Norwegians in England, cap. iii, 

3 See my Primitive Folkmoots, 33 et sea. 


and that by a series of circumstances, not quite clear 
by historical documents, though sufficiently so by 
archaeological sequence, it has been continued at 
Westminster, which has also proved a convenient 
meeting-place for the historical parliaments of the 

It is necessary then to enquire whether, having 
in view the undoubted Danish influence at West- 
minster, having also in view the old mode of 
electing the monarch in Denmark, there is anything 
in the history of Westminster which may fairly be 
considered a survival of these early Danish times, 
and whether we have not thereby gained some infor- 
mation about the folkmoot at Westminster ? Stow 
says : 

" At the upper end of Westminster Hall was a long marble 
stone of twelve feet in length, and three feet in breadth ; and 
there also was a marble chair where the kings of England 
formerly sat at their coronation dinners, and at other solemn 
times the Lord Chancellor. This was afterwards built over 
by the two Courts of Chancery and King's Bench." 

Here we have, I think, the stone chair upon which, 
in old days, the kings were elected, and which, being 
covered by Westminster Hall, has been lost sight 
of by historians. Of the stone itself we have not 
very much information. In the first place, let us 
note that it was not usual to have stone seats in 
great halls, as it is important to know that the West- 
minster stone was there not as a part of the ordinary 
furniture of the king's palace, but as something 
which had been handed down with the place and its 
traditions, and had, therefore, held its own against 


the more general practice of the age. Turner, in 
his Domestic Architecture of England, points out 
the extremely rude construction of the seats in the 
royal castles, and quotes items from the accounts 
in the time of Richard I., of payments to carpenters 
for sawing trunks of trees, and shaping the planks 
into tables. 1 

Some remarkable legal customs were enacted at 
this stone in Westminster Hall, all of which prove it 
to have been the centre of a traditional history which 
had become engrafted on to the legal formulae of later 
days. Mr Sergeant Pulling, in his History of the 
Coif, says that 

" at this marble stone divers matters of importance used to 
be transacted, the swearing-in of high officers, etc. Henry 
de Cliff was so sworn as Master of the Rolls in 1325" (p. 84). 

From Brayley and Britton's Ancient Palace of 
Westminster (p. 96), we learn that the Placita Roll of 
34 Edward I. records that William de Brewes, having 
insulted Roger de Huxham, the justice appointed to 

1 See vol. i. 98, where there is an engraving of the back of the 
coronation chair. It will also be curious to note that as time went on 
the marble chair at Westminster became covered with tapestries and 
such like material. At the coronation of Edward III. the ornaments 
for the royal seat were as follows : 

Item, for ornaments for the King's seat ; viz., cloth of gold and 

Turkey silk, 4 cloths containing 30! ells. 
The same day, for the back of the same, to preserve it from the 

humidity of the wall, 24 ells of linen. 
The same day, for a veil, on the side of the King's seat, cloth of gold 

on linen, 12 cloths. 
The same day, to place under the King sitting, 2 pieces of velvet 

containing 14 ells. 
The same day, cushions of samite for the same, 3 cushions. — This 
is taken from the rolls preserved in the Augmentation Office 
relating to the coronation of Edward III., quoted in Brayley 
and Britton's Ancient Palace of Westminster, 145. 


determine a dispute between him and his wife, and 
being arraigned before the king, it 

"was decreed by the King and Council that the aforesaid 
William should proceed unattired, bareheaded, and holding 
a torch in his hand, from the King's Bench in Westminster 
Hall, during full court, to the Exchequer, and there ask 
pardon of the aforesaid Roger, and make an apology for 
his trespass." 

A curious print in Brayley's Londiniana (i. 209), 
is called "Westminster Hall in Term Time." It 
exhibits, on the Western side, the Side Bar, at which 
certain formal motions were accustomed to be made ; 
and although the practice is now different, the phrase 
Side Bar motions is still used professionally. 

But the most important fact connected with the 
legal history of Westminster stone is that it gave 
the name to, and was the original place of sitting 
for, the Court of King's Bench. Mr Foss, in his 
paper on the Legal History of Westminster Hall 
in the volume on Old London, 1867, says : 

" The magnum Bancum was at the upper end, where 
the steps now are. Here the Chancellor sat in his marble 
chair, which was afterwards (dr. 1400) covered over by the 
Courts of Chancery on the right, and King's Bench on the 
left ; these divided the space between them, and were, until 
a comparatively recent period, mere open platforms raised 
above the floor of the hall. There is a curious print repre- 
senting the interior of the hall (dr. 1735) and entitled 'Law 
is a bottomless Pitt,' which shows this arrangement and group 
of loiterers on the floor of the hall." 

Dugdale, in his Origi?ies Juridiciales (p. 37), says : 

" The place where the Lord Chancellor anciently sate and 
held his court, was at the upper end of Westminster Hall, 


at that long marble table which is theire situate (though now 
covered with the courts there erected) whereunto are five 
or six steps of ascent. For in 36 Edward III., when Simon 
Langham was made Lord Chancellor, he placed himself 
in the marble chair, wherein the chancellors used to sit, 
and sealed patents, which marble chair to this day remaineth, 
being fixt to the wall there over against the middle of that 
marble table." 

The Court of King's Bench was, we know, the 
court where the king, carrying out one of the oldest 
functions of English kingship, sat as judge ; and in 
the history of the King's Bench we have a most 
important link between archaic and historical times. 
The formula of summons in banco regis still is " before 
the King himself." 

Now these facts would of themselves, I venture 
to think, go far towards establishing my proposition 
that in the marble chair at Westminster Hall we have 
one of those ancient stones which marked the site 
of an assembly in tribal times. But some of the 
coronation rites enacted at this very stone absolutely 
carry us back to those ceremonies, which we have 
noted as incidental to Danish monarchical elections. 

Dennis, in his Key to the Regalia^ says : 

"The King being conducted through the Hall is seated 
in a chair of state, placed on a platform raised on the scite 
of the Courts of Chancery and King's Bench, the enclosures 
for which are removed, and on the very spot where his 
representatives administer justice and decree equity, the 
sovereign first presents himself to his liege subjects " (p. 9). 

This was the custom in late years, but its very 
significance suggests a more important earlier history. 



Dean Stanley says in his Memorials of West- 
minster : 

"In Westminster itself, by a usage doubtless dating back 
from a very early period, the Kings, before they passed 
from the Palace to the Abbey, were lifted to a marble seat, 
twelve feet long and three feet broad, placed at the upper 
end of Westminster Hall, and called from this peculiar 
dignity, 'The King's Bench.'" 1 

But the true source of the information thus so 
graphically and succinctly put, is Arthur Taylor, 
in his Glory of Regality, 1820, who has collected from 
the chronicles all that is to be gleaned about the 
curious connection between the stone bench in West- 
minster Hall and the coronation ceremonies. From 
this work we learn that Henry VII. was to come on 
the morning of his coronation " from his chambre into 
Westminster Hall where he shall sitt, under clothe 
of estate, in the marble chaire." Richard III., say 
Speed and Stow, upon the 25th June went in great 
pomp into Westminster Hall, and there, in the King's 
Bench Court, took his seat. The Chronicle of Croy- 
land, in recording the same occurrence, says that, 
11 se apud magnam aulam Westmonasterii in cathe- 
dram marmoream immisit." Grafton says that the 
King " came downe out of the white hall into the 
great hall at Westminster, and went directly to the 
Kinge's Benche." Hall says that Katharine, Queen 
of Henry V., after her coronation, was " conveighed 
into Westminster hal, and ther sat in the throne at 
the table of marble at the upper end of the hal." 

1 Pp. 49-50. I may refer also to Dart, Wcstmonastcrium, i. 56, 62. 


Richard II., arriving at the palace from the Tower, 
entered the hall, and " ad altam mensam marmoream 
in eadem aula accedens." 

We have some evidence, too, that this monarch 
used the marble chair as his throne on state occasions. 
In the contest between him and the barons we read 
that the barons assembled at Westminster with their 
retainers, and when the king made his appearance, 

" as soone as they had sight of him, made to him their humble 
obeisance, and went foorth till they came to the nether steps 
going vp to the King's seat of state, where they made their 
second obeisance." 1 

Now these facts concerning the English coronation 
and regal stone-chair at Westminster receive additional 
light, if I mistake not, from the facts connected with 
the bringing of the coronation stone of Scone from 
Scotland by Edward I. Why should Edward I. 
have taken the trouble to secure it and bring it to 
London ? It is answered that he wished to destroy 
the Scottish kingdom, this stone being held in great 
reverence by the Scots, and its loss foretelling the 
downfall of their monarchy. 

Thus Hemingford says : 

"In returning by Scone, [the king] ordered that stone in which, 
as has been said, the kings of the Scots were wont to be 
placed at their coronation, to be taken and carried to London, 
as a sign that the kingdom had been conquered and resigned 
[in signum regni conquesti et resignati]." 2 

1 See Brayley and Britton, Ancient Palace of Westminster, 271, 
quoting Holinshed, ii. 787. 

2 Chron., quoted by Skene, Coronation Stone, ii. 


And another chronicler, William Rishanger, records 
that Edward I., on his return from the north, 

" passed by the abbey of Scone, where having taken away 
the stone which the kings of Scotland were wont at the 
time of their coronation to use for a throne, carried it to 
Westminster, directing it to be made the chair of the 
priest celebrant " [celebrantium cathedram sacerdotum]. 
{Chron. 163.) 

Accordingly, when the stone arrived in London 
it was enclosed in a wooden framework in the form 
of a chair, and has thus remained to the present 
day. In the treaty with Scotland, under Edward II., 
made at Northampton, one of the stipulations was 
that the ancient coronation stone was to be given 
up, but we are told by the Chronicle of Lanercost 
(261), "the people of London would by no means 
whatever allow it to depart from themselves." 

These details, minute as they are, detached as 
they are, make up together all that is necessary to 
show that Westminster was a tribal meeting-place, 
and had, like Kingston, its King's stone. It is clear 
that whatever was the object of bringing the Scone 
stone to England it was not that it should be used 
as a coronation stone. Indeed there was no reason 
why the English people of the thirteenth century 
should suddenly desire to adopt the tribal practices 
and beliefs of Scotsmen, and the only way to 
account satisfactorily for the use in much later times 
of the Scone stone in the coronation ceremony of 
England is the discovery of a counterpart to it in 
the English ceremony. That counterpart was the 




One mm itht 


Hernial fa- Ben* 
l.,,ti<f-.''u,ih ,Jrrr. 
' <md ofJtirhard - see below, 
■md and Garden granted to 
Hosp 1 . fa' Jtichi son of Edward. 
md of Humphrey, 
(Tit- tierr iidfuituntj the above 
,</■' Faulinus SrneJ- and //mn- 
'ted fa him to Hospital with 
the one belenv. 
(Me acre granted to Bospital 

by PaulimiS SencJ-. 
Ol%e d'arrmted tv dl fa JteJorave . 
land ofB^Springoltt and Bospf 
' acre of Land granted to Hosp. 
ytren'.de Sco Hgidio 
land ofBart/i Spruujold 
land 'of \D.° 
Bospited land . 
ere of Zand 
16 Hospital land granted fa- Bet'Biitt. 

LJ/i acre of land granted to Hosp'. 
\ by Juti-ma Je Gayion, 


tnbltturti , 

land and rent tit 


n amntrr/ to ' 

Hospital In Ad 

Rente etc Hereto 

sin acre of Ditto 

de Irancdcn it 

of.fiospl' 1 

Mind of Robert Ji 
Three roods ofluj 

.1 ,,r, 

nted to the 

Hasp! by lucia 



SfClemcnt- Danes. 'and 'euvallea 

16 A second ' Gard'.!i- Jle.cse of A? 

'" An acre o-ranf 'fr //.,.,■/>' l t .i^ms /. ' 
, — Bouses iVyw winch ffosp?re&&ew 
2.9 land ofHospl 

. Isdrhrot. attul* Far, 
Messes trotn tech Ho. 
sit:on the arotatd r. 

10- The abate places were 
■ ^elements M„e, /, M, 


- Hardee. 



m m 

W 3. Plan of 

l M I TJteBound^ies orEtwir&ns <>f 




D? of Alicia Attleosones. 
lr' 'of' Hasp, late Jacob italdttins 
An acre o/'lotd ot Hot iU-toood 
'land of '■'milium Talk. 
D? of John de Scntficnll. 
land of JHltiam Cousin . 
Ha:,./' Step Olailtttn de Kentistotm . 
Vhc manorial Residence of 
Robert de Rortpole . 
"ortpote Chapel succeeded hvC.r.o 
Ton Chapel. 

d House of Edmund, situate. 
ja.fttt Criteria and hrttcecn 

Hasp and Cirri: -nit ell .Van 


"~~ Spitel Stret. 




King's stone at Westminster ; and when the later 
legal use to which this was put began first to 
obscure and then to displace the earlier associations 
with the coronation, it was easy for Englishmen 
to transfer to the Scone stone all that they 
had previously understood of the Westminster 
stone. This is what I claim for the evidence 
adduced as to the origin of the King's Bench at 

Westminster is in this way separated from London 
in a marked and special degree, and it will be found 
on further examination that there is another instance 
of this separation, which will also show the keeping 
up of the tribal practices of the Danes by the 
people living outside the walls of London. This 
is the famous Danish settlement on the western side 
of the city. We approach the history of this settle- 
ment through the significant name of the church and 
parish of St Clement Danes, which has kept alive 
the tradition that the district^ on this side of the 
city was in some way or another connected with 
the Danish conquerors of our island in the tenth 
and eleventh centuries. When the Danes overran 
this country they formed settlements in many 
districts, and that one of these settlements should 
have been just outside the walls of London is not 
only of great significance by itself, but it has, I 
think, the added significance of showing the difference 
between the city organisation and that of the country 
outside the city. 

The first important facts which bear upon the 
subject are the entries in the chronicles relating to 


Harold, the son of Cnut, who succeeded to the 
kingship in 1036. William of Malmesbury says, "he 
was elected by the Danes and the citizens of London, 
who from long intercourse with these barbarians had 
almost entirely adopted their customs," 1 and then in 
1040 we have the records of his burial. The entry 
in the chronicle of William of Malmesbury is as 
follows, after describing the disinterring of the body 
by Hardicnut : " id a quodam piscatore exceptum 
sagena, in ccemiterio Danorum Londonicz tumulatur" 
Florence of Worcester says that Hardicnut sent 
to London yElfric, Archbishop of York, Earl Godwin, 
Stor the master of the household, Edric the dispenser, 
Thrond captain of his guards, and other men of 
dignity, and ordered them to dig up Harold's body, 
and throw it into a ditch, and that when this was 
done they should take it out and throw it into the 
river Thames. After this was done the body "ad 
Danos allatum sub festinatione, in coemeterio quod 
habuerunt Londonice scpultum est ab ipsis cum honored 
Ralph de Diceto says more specifically: " brevi autem 
post a quodam piscatoi'e ad Danos allatum est, et in 
cimiterio quod habuerunt Lundonice scpultum est apttd 
Sanctum Clement cm." 

The question is — what do these entries exactly 
mean ? have they any significance beyond the fact 
which they record? We must go a little further 
into the history of the Danish conquest for our 
answer, and the first point to note is that the object 
of the Danes was to settle after conquest. It was 
not mere piracy and plunder. This is clearly shown 

1 Lib. ii. cap. xii. 


by a passage from Roger of Wendover, sub anno 
896, as follows : 

" Landing at the mouth of the river (Luie), not far from 
the city of London, they drew their ships on shore and 
took to plunder and rapine, on hearing of which the citizens 
of London taking to their aid the people of the neighbour- 
ing parts {comprovincialibus populis) came to the aforesaid 
place when they found that the enemy had now formed a 

The text of the Rolls edition calls this river Luie, a 
reading not always given, but one which undoubtedly 
suggests the modern Lea, while the whole passage 
indicates clearly enough the object of the assault 
upon London. A boat of this period and of the 
type known to have belonged to the Danes was 
recently discovered by the East London Water 
Company in their works on the Lea, and this 
represents the last relic perhaps of the struggle of 
London against the Danish conqueror. 

Apart from these points it may perhaps be 
conceded, at all events for the moment, that there is 
enough chronicle evidence to warrant the conclusion 
that the Danes and the Londoners were two separate 
communities, that they did not form one city-com- 
munity, and that a district near to St Clement Danes 
was the well-known burial-place of the Danish king. 1 
The next point is to enquire whether these two 
facts can be brought together, and in particular 
whether anything more than a cemetery was situated 
there. The entries in their very baldness help us 

1 It is interesting to find among the runic monuments one recording 
that three Danes "lie in Luntunum." {Archceologia, xliii. 116.) 


materially, for they allude to the burial - place as 
belonging to the countrymen of the king, a fit and 
proper place for his interment, and one which his 
countrymen desired as a right rather than one which 
Londoners had determined upon in order to get rid 
of the dead king's body. This would mean that the 
Danes were sufficiently distinct from Londoners not 
only to have views of their own but to give expression 
to them, and that therefore they were living in this 
district beyond the walls of London in such political 
form as to give a corporate character to their life. 
If this view is confirmed by other facts any difficulty 
at this initial stage is swept away, and it therefore 
becomes necessary to examine into Danish settle- 
ments to see whether there is such confirmation. 
Dr Worsaae, the distinguished Danish antiquary, 
held this view, as the following quotation will prove : 

" It has been supposed that this church was called after the 
Danes because so many Danes have been buried in it ; but as 
it is situated close by the Thames, and must originally have 
lain outside the city walls, in the western suburbs, it is 
certainly put beyond all doubt that the Danish merchants 
and mariners who were established in or near London had 
here a place of their own in which they dwelt together as 
fellow-countrymen. Here it should also be remarked that 
this church, like others in commercial towns, as for instance at 
Aarhuus in Jutland, at Trondhjem in Norway, was conse- 
crated to St Clement, who was especially the seaman's patron 
saint." 1 

Now the Danes living outside the walls of London 
in a district specially theirs, would live in Danish 

1 Worsaae, Danes and Norwegians in England, 17. 



To show the eastern boundary as 
fixed by the decretal of 1222, leaving 
an area between the City and 
Westminster excluded from both 
jurisdictions. This is the area 
referred to in the description of the 
Aldwych customs. The plan is 
copied from Archceologia, vol. xxvi. 


fashion, would follow Danish customs, would conform 
to Danish laws and institutions. Can we then 
ascertain what these might be? First of all there is 
some evidence from the Sagas. Mr Lethaby has 
quoted from the Jomsvikinga Saga a passage which 
records that Sweyn put Thingamannalid in two places, 
the one in Lundunaborg and that the thingamen made 
a law that no one should stay away a whole night and 
that they gathered at the Bura church every night 
when a large bell was rung. 1 That this settlement 
was outside London is shown by the attempted 
massacre of the Danes by the Londoners and also 
from a passage in the Heimskringla describing how 
Eric "fought to the west of London." 2 We can next 
turn to two distinct parallels, two actually historical 
settlements of the Danes in or near large walled 
towns in Saxon times. One of these cases is 
Rochester in Kent, the other is Dublin, and I will 
refer to the essential features of these two cases to 
see if they are repeated in the London settlement at 
St Clement Danes. 

I have discussed the Rochester case at some 
length elsewhere. 3 Outside the defences of the 
castle but upon the great mound, on the northern 
part of which the castle is built, is a district called 
the Boley Hill. This district is not only topo- 
grapically distinct from the castle and town of 
Rochester, but it was also constitutionally distinct. 
It had a separate jurisdiction of its own absolutely 

1 Lethaby, London before the Conquest ', 114. 

2 Morris, Saga Library, iv. 26. 

3 Village Community, 247-252 ; Arch. Cantiana % xvii. 181-188. 


independent of the mayor and corporation. The 
first historical notice of it is contained in a charter 
of Henry VI., and Edward IV. also granted a 
charter for the holding there of a court leet. But 
these charters only give legal sanction to much 
more ancient custom. The inhabitants of the 
district met in legal assembly under a tree in the 
centre of their district and this assembly determined 
all the rights and privileges of the inhabitants in a 
manner so exclusive of the jurisdiction of the mayor 
and corporation of the town that royal proclama- 
tions and other functions of the kind were always 
separately read at the assembly tree after they had 
been promulgated at the Guildhall. The whole 
history of this little community as I have traced it 
out is highly interesting and curious, and there can 
be no doubt that it represents a settlement by the 
Danes following one of their successful attacks upon 

But it may be argued that I have had to piece 
together the history of the Boley Hill community at 
Rochester just as I am endeavouring to piece together 
the history of the St Clement's community at London, 
and that therefore the parallel between the two cases 
is not a parallel of actual recorded fact on the one 
side and a suggested restoration of lost facts on the 
other side, but only a parallel between two separate 
sets of suggested restoration. This argument would 
have some force, but even so I think the fact that 
there exists so close a parallel in two perfectly distinct 
cities is important enough for either case to act as a 
support to the other. But I can go a step further 


than this, for in the Dublin case there is far better 
record evidence of the method which the Danes 
adopted when they successfully made good their 
demands for a settlement in or near a great town 
or city. 

The Scandinavian antiquities of Dublin have 
fortunately had a special historian, Mr Charles 
Haliday, and from his extensive and minute 
researches 1 based on documentary evidence of 
unquestionable authority, I summarise the principal 
facts for my present purpose. The oldest Norman 
records frequently refer to an extramural district 
east of Dublin denominated the Stein or Staine, a 
flat piece of ground extending southwards from the 
strand of the Liffey to the lands of the Rath, and 
eastward from near the city walls to the river 
Dodder. The point of land here referred to may 
be described as an elevated ridge near the confluence 
of the Liffey and the Dodder, forming what the 
Scandinavians termed a " Noes," or neck of land 
between two streams, and was the place where the 
Dublin northmen usually landed. I am not disposed 
to lay over much stress upon parallel topographical 
details, but it is certainly of remarkable significance 
that this extramural territory of Dublin should be 
so closely in keeping with the extramural territory 
of London associated with the Danes. As in Dublin 
so in London, the territory proceeded from the strand 
of the great river to near the city walls by the banks 
of the lesser river, thus forming a neck of land 
between two streams. In London these rivers were 

1 Haliday, Scandinavian Kingdom of Dublin, 1882. 


the Thames and the Fleet respectively. The extent 
of the territory in London I shall discuss more fully 
presently, but its general position is indicated from 
its Dublin parallel in a remarkably accurate manner. 
The place known as the Stein in Dublin was 
called after a great monolith which formerly stood 
not far from the landing-place. It does not appear 
that the stone was inscribed, but it stood about 12 
or 14 feet above ground, and it so remained until 
the surrounding lands were laid out in streets and 
houses. Down to the seventeenth century it was a 
well-known landmark, and leases of the lands near 
seem to locate the property dealt with by reference to 
11 the Long stone of the Stein." 1 This spot was called 
by the native Irish "The Green of Ath Cliath," and 
the successful Irish chieftain, Brian, after he had 
driven the Danes from Dublin, held a great council 
there. 2 Further than this, on a part of the territory 
of the Stein, there existed until the year 1685 a great 
mound known as the Thing motha, that is the council 
hill for the administration of the affairs of the Danish 
tribesmen, and not far off the Hangr Hoeg or gallows 
hill for the execution of criminals. All that has been 
collected about this site goes to show that it was the 
great assembly place of the Dublin Danes, and that 
many of the primitive Danish customs practised at 
such places were continued long after the Danish 
rule had ceased, for we find that the bowling green, 
the archery butts, the place for games, miracle plays, 

1 Op. cit. 152, where examples are quoted. 

2 Wars of the Gaedhil with the Gael, clxxii. 155. This volume 
describes the holding of Dublin by the Danes. 


and pageants were at this mound, and that upon it in 
after years the mayor of Dublin sat with his jurats 
under a tent presiding over the armed muster of the 
citizens. 1 

Let me here summarise the results we have 
obtained from these examples. First, we have it that 
the territory marked off for the occupation of the 
Danish community was kept distinct and independent 
of the surrounding districts ; secondly, that this 
territory was not merely occupied by a group of 
individuals, but was held by a social unit possessed 
of the power of self-government ; thirdly, that the 
system of government was upon the ancient Danish 
lines, having for its chief symbol the stone or mound 
or tree sacred as the place of assembly ; and lastly, 
that this open-air place of assembly was also the 
place of festivals and ceremonies having a sacred or 
tribal character, just as we know it to have been 
in the earliest days of Danish history. These four 
results are of great significance. They are associated 
items of the well ascertained social system of the 
early Danish tribesmen. They appear in France, 
in Scotland, everywhere where the Danish people 
extended their conquest in the ninth and tenth 
centuries, when they were at the zenith of their 
power as a conquering and settling race. They are 
indicative, in a way which perhaps no other evidence 
could be, of the presence of Danish settlers, and 
coming as they do from settlements in our own 
country they may clearly be used for the purpose 
of ascertaining whether any similar evidence is forth - 

1 Haliday, op. cit. 169. 


coming from a district such as St Clement Danes, 
London, which has not kept its historical records 
complete enough to be able to do without the 
assistance afforded by parallel events elsewhere. 

With this evidence before us we may turn to the 
facts which are recorded of the doings of the Danes 
at London, for these will meet the initial difficulty 
by showing that the Danes at London remained 
outside the walls, because they did not as conquerors 
obtain rights inside. After the peace of Wedmore, 
which gave Essex to the Danes in 884, the fleet 
of the Danes steered up the Medway and beset 
Rochester, which held out until it was relieved by 
/Elfred, and at the close of this part of the great 
struggle London is definitely stated to have been in 
Alfred's hands. This is the main point to start with, 
for all before that is uncertain. It was plundered in 
851, and in 880 the Danes were as near as Fulham, 
where they wintered, but these facts do not, as it 
appears to me, warrant Mr Green's assumption that 
London was all this time, under the terms of the 
peace of Wedmore, in the hands of the Danes. I 
think, on the contrary, that the fact that the peace 
of 886 sees London in Alfred's hands without mention 
of his having won it back from the Danish chief, 
argues that it had never been actually taken by the 
Danes. If, however, London was not actually in 
possession it was often attacked, generally surrounded 
and virtually hemmed in, by the Danes. This would 
be sufficient to account for the grant of a place of 
settlement outside its walls, and I think the peace 
of Alfred and Guthrum in 886 allowed this concession 


to the isolated Danish settlers, although it shifted 
back the formal boundary of the Danish country to 
the river Lea, far east of London. 

If the general history of the events recorded of 
these times points to the fact of a settlement just 
outside London, it would be confirmed if local history 
gave us any of the internal details of such a settle- 
ment. It was a tribal community which settled, not 
a mere herd of people brought together by the tide 
of conquest. The territory which was allotted to this 
community was singularly fitted to Danish require- 
ments, as we have already seen by its remarkable 
parallel to the Danish territory in Dublin, and it 
left its landmarks on the map of London for many 

We may turn for information first to the boundaries 
of Westminster, for if these boundaries did not reach 
to the city, the intervening territory will form a 
valuable part of the present enquiry. The first 
description of these boundaries is in a charter of 
King Eadgar, dated 951, in the following terms: 

" First up from Thames along Merfleet to Pollen-Stock, 
so to Bulinga Fen, afterwards from the Fen along the old 
ditch, to Cowford. From Cowford up, along Tyburne to 
the broad military road : following the military road to the 
old stock of St Andrews Church : then within London Fen, 
proceeding south on Thames to mid-stream, and along 
stream, by land and strand, to Merfleet." * 

There is not much to distinguish the eastern 
boundary in this description, but " within London 

1 Translated from the Anglo-Saxon by Mr G. Saunders in Archao- 
logia, xxvi. 


Fen " means within on the Westminster side. This 
is confirmed by a subsequent description of the 
boundary of Westminster, which appears in the 
decree of 1222, for terminating a dispute between 
the Abbey and the See of London respecting the 
ecclesiastical franchise of the conventual church of 
St Peter. 

This decree entirely excludes from the West- 
minster franchise towards the east, all the precincts 
of the Savoy, and the entire parishes of St Mary-le- 
Strand and St Clement Danes, with portions of the 
parishes of St Andrew and St Giles. We thus have 
an extent of ground, which is depicted as uncovered 
in Aggas's plan of London in Elizabeth's reign, and 
which at a later period included Drury Lane, at the 
end of White Hart Yard, and extended to Somerset 
House and the river front. The growth of buildings 
in this district during the Stuart and early Georgian 
periods has obscured its early history, but the old 
boundaries of Westminster and of the city tell their 
story well, and enable us to look upon this territory as 
belonging to a special period and a special series of 
events. This territory did not belong either to West- 
minster or to the city. We must go further back for its 
origin than to parishes and precincts, and then we come 
upon a place named Aldwych. Colonel Prideaux, a 
well-known London antiquary, thus describes it : 

"South of Great Queen Street is a district which was 
co-extensive with the area of what was perhaps the oldest 
suburb of London, the village of Ealdwic or Aldwic, known 
later as Aldewych and of which so late as the days of the 
Stuarts some vestiges remained in Oldwich Close, an open 


space which lay to the south of Lincoln's Inn Fields. This 
village in the tenth century was largely colonised by the 
Danes, after whom the neighbouring church of St Clement 
was named. The high road of the village, which connected 
it with the hospital of St Giles, was known as the Via de 
Aldewych, and is represented by the modern Drury Lane 
with the exception of the south-eastern extremity, which led 
to the Holy Well of St Clement," 1 

and the name of which survived in Wych Street 
before the new improvement. 

1 Notes and Queries^ 9th ser. ii. 81. The topography of the district 
can be partly made out from later historical documents. We find 
Henry I.'s Saxon wife making choice of Aldewych for her leper settle- 
ment. Where Charing Cross Road runs stood the old Blemundsbury 
manor house. Upon the ground east of it Matilda raised her hospital, 
dedicated to St Giles. Next came the old church of Aldewych, with its 
lych gate, and close beside the Clocke Hose, whence the Curfew tolled. 
It was probably here that criminals, on their way to the gallows, paused 
for a minute to receive the Bowl, or Cup of Charity, and then passed 
on down Elde Street, turning to the left through Le Lane into the fatal 
Elm Close with its two tall trees. Opposite the church stood the village 
pound, and the stocks a little further eastward at the junction of Drury 
Lane (Via de Aldewyche) with Watling Road (Oxford Street), where 
Hugh le Faber worked his smithy, and just facing Drury Lane rose the 
village cross and the well {Fontem communem). In Plantagenet times 
(1200) we can trace five cottages near the smithy, and on the opposite 
side of Drury Lane, facing Holbourn, stood the Cristemasse Mansion. 
This mansion became an inn in the time of Richard II., and adopted 
his badge, the White Hart, as its sign, and was so known until its 
destruction in 1807, when it had become the White Hart Yard. The 
hospital, indeed, had been dissolved in 1539, but just previously King 
Henry VIII. had acquired the property of St Giles Hospital in exchange 
for land in Leicestershire, and it only boasted of three messuages then. 
In the indenture then drawn up we find specified : — 25 acres of pasture 
lying in the village of St Giles ; one messuage called the White Hart 
and 18 acres of pasture ; one messuage called the Rose and one 
pasture. This represents the Aldewych lands formerly divided into {a) 
Aldewych West, {b) Aldewyche East, (c) the Campum de Aldewych. 

Aldewych West was that region bounded west by the Via de 
Aldewych (Drury Lane), east by Newland (Belton Street, Short's 
Gardens, etc.), St Giles Street (Broad Street) on the north, and Long 
Acre on the south. 



This is the territory which, I think, was Danish 
territory in the tenth century, and which was suffi- 
ciently separate from the city and from Westminster 

Aldewych East or the White Hart and Rose messuages with 
pasture land, was bounded north by Holborn, south by Great Queen 
Street, west by Drury Lane, and east by Little Queen Street. Spenser's 
ditch, afterwards the common sewer, divided it into two. 

The Campus de Aldewych, afterwards known as Oldwick Close, 
was bounded east by Lincoln's Inn Fields, west by Drury Lane, north 
by a footpath, now Great Queen Street. Southward it stretched over 16 
acres to Wych Street, half in the parish of St Giles and jhalf in that of 
St Clement Danes. A footpath, afterwards Princes Street (now Kemble 
Street) divided the parishes. The St Giles lands, including Aldewych, 
passed by royal grant into the hands of John Dudley, Viscount Lisle 
1545, and two years later they became the property of Wymond Carewe. 
But it also seems that the same king granted the north part of the 
Campus to the Holford family and the southern part to Sir William 
Drury. The occupancy of the Drury family, though it has left so 
permanent an impression on the locality, was a very brief one. In 
1564 the estate was sold to the Burtons, but meantime Clare Mansion 
had become Drury House, and the Via de Aldewych has ever since 
been known as Drury Lane. The Burtons also bought the Holford 
property, and in one way or another acquired most of the land bordering 
Drury Lane. But Drury House itself became the residence of the hero 
of the Plague, Lord Craven, and was henceforth known by his name. 
With the exception of a few Drury Lane mansions Aldewych retained 
its pastoral character throughout the reign of Queen Elizabeth. For we 
read that "There were certain parcels of land by estimation 50 acres 
holden of her Majesty by lease, sometime of the possession of Burton 
St Lazarus of Jerusalem, which in times past had been Lammas and 
errable {sic) which was then divided ; hedged and ditched, for meadow 
and pasture, and ought to be common at Lammas from St Giles to 
Hyde Park and towards Knightsbridge and Chelsea." And the ground 
rent appears to have been £1 an acre. In 1600 the first great building 
boom began, and the assessment of twenty-three years later gives 

Drury Lane, 56 housekeepers. 

Drury Lane (Cockpit side), 14 housekeepers. 

Drury Lane (gardeners on the back side), 4 housekeepers. 

Queen Street, 15 housekeepers. 

Princes Street (both sides), 32 housekeepers. 
Miss Hadley has kindly compiled this note for me from Blott, 
Chronicles of Blemundsbury, 237, 339-341 ; Parton, Hist, of St Giles, 
105, 164, etc. 


to have been included in neither of these places up to 
the time of the reign of Edward I. 1 The name 
Aldwych supports this theory, for the second syllable 
wych is the Scandinavian vik, "creek" or "bay," which 
appears in so many Danish towns on the east coast, 
and includes Greenwich and Woolwich in London ; 2 
and it is possible that Tothill Street situate off Gray's 
Inn Lane, on the high ground leading to Mount 
Pleasant, preserves in its name similar evidence for 
this settlement to that which has been noted for the 
settlement at Westminster. 

So much for the territorial portion of the history ; 
we can now turn to the constitutional history, for in 
this, I think, we have many important clues not 
hitherto properly brought into the history of London. 
If in connection with a territory which kept its dis- 
tinctiveness down to historical times we can discover 
customs which can only be explained by reference to 
Danish customs in other places, as, for instance, Dublin 
and Rochester, already referred to, the argument 
becomes all the stronger that this must have been 
the place of settlement of the Danish conquerors 
of the country round London. 

Perhaps the most significant relic of this Danish 
settlement is the stone monolith at which the chief 
of the tribe was installed and the assembly of the 
tribe met to discuss and settle the affairs of the 
community. This is to be identified with a stone 

1 Traditions to this effect are noted by Stow, and Blott's Chronicles 
of Blemundsbury records a legend connecting the residence of Harold 
Harefoot with Hereflete Inn on the present site of Chancery Lane. 

2 Cf. Skeat, Etymological Dictionary y s.v. " wich." 


cross, as it was called in later days, which stood 
opposite the Bishop of Worcester's house, now 
Somerset House, in the Strand, and the means of 
identification are most interesting. In the first place, 
it was the spot where the dues were paid. This 
appears from a manorial custom first recorded, accord- 
ing to Hazlitt's Tenures of Laiid, in the reign of 
Edward I., when it appears that the dues for a piece 
of land in the parish of St Clement Danes were 
six horse-shoes paid annually "at the Stone Cross" 
(ad crucem lapideani). This land passed into the 
possession of the Corporation of London, who 
annually now render six horse-shoes for it at the 
Court of Exchequer. 1 It is probable that we have 

1 Hazlitt, Tenures, 203. It is worth while noting that this custom is 
still kept up. The ceremony of 1902 was thus described by the Times, 
1st November: — "Some of the officers of the Corporation of London 
attend upon his Majesty's Remembrancer of the King's Bench Division 
of the High Court of Justice, to render to the Crown certain rent services 
due for land and tenements held by the Corporation in capite in the 
counties of Salop and Middlesex. The first rent service rendered 
yesterday by Mr City Solicitor to the King's Remembrancer, Lord 
Dunboync, in one of the Referee Courts at 3 o'clock, in the presence 
of a number of visitors, was for a piece of land in Shropshire. The 
second service rendered was in response to the proclamation — 'Tenants 
and occupiers of a certain tenement called " the Forge," in the parish 
of St Clement Danes, in the county of Middlesex, come forth and 
do your service.' The City Solicitor came to the table and counted six 
horse-shoes and sixty-one hobnails. A record of the rendering of this 
strange service can be traced to the 19 Henry III., when Walter le 
Brun, farrier, at the Strand, in Middlesex, was to have a piece of ground 
in the parish of Saint Clement Danes to place a forge there, he rendering 
annually the above rent service. It is probably now represented by a 
forge still existing in Milford Lane, and moved up there from the river 
bank when the Thames Embankment was constructed. Until the 
passing of the Act, 22 and 23 Vict. cap. 21, these rent services 
were rendered in the Court of Exchequer annually before the Cursitor 
Baron, upon the abolition of whose office the function was delegated 
to the Remembrancer." 


in this custom the manorial form of a much older 
rite connected with the ancient Danish sacred worship 
of Loki, the great pagan deity who protected smith's 
work ; but if this point is not on the present occasion 
pursued further than to point out its evident con- 
nection with the subject, we are, at all events, entitled 
to suggest that another important point is not 
doubtful, for the manor dues being rendered at the 
stone cross is only the manorial successor to the 
older rite of the dues of the community being 
rendered at the place of assembly of the community. 
That this is a correct interpretation of the manor 
custom is gathered from further customs connected 
with this stone cross so called. Thus in the reign 
of Edward I. "the justices itinerant set at the stone 
cross" in the open air. 1 The custom is alluded to 
by several authorities and there can be no doubt as 
to its observance. 2 An open-air court of this kind is 
obviously of archaic significance. The justices came 
to it as to a place independent of the city or of 
Middlesex, and they came in conformity, no doubt, to 
ancient custom, not to thirteenth-century requirements. 
That custom takes us back to the Danish settlement 
where the heads of the tribe met at London, as 
they did at Dublin and at Rochester, at a monolith 
or other significant landmark, and as, according to all 
ancient authorities, was the practice in Danesland and 
throughout Scandinavia. It was the meeting-place 
of the assembly of the Danish community, the place 

1 Ritson, Court Leets, ix. 

2 Chronicles of the Mayors and Sheriffs of London, 237, 243 ; Penant, 
London, 159 ; Stow, Survey of London, Thorns' edit. 165. 


where they administered their affairs and their laws. 
And in later days, before the district had lost its 
ancient idiosyncrasy of independence both of London 
and of Westminster, it was administered by the 
king's justices, but in the archaic Danish fashion 
and on the ancient Danish spot. 

There is the additional significance of the Maypole 
of the Strand, so well known as connected with this 
spot. The Maypole and its accompanying ceremonial 
is a very ancient relic of the past, and it is essentially 
connected with a settled community. Nowhere in 
England is it otherwise than a public institution, a 
part of the corporate life of the people. On the 
continent of Europe it is something more than this 
— it is connected with the special feature of early 
life, namely, the tribal community, and above all the 
tribal community of the northmen. That it should 
have survived so persistently in this particular spot in 
London justifies the assumption that it comes down 
from the same tribal community of the Danes who 
settled outside London walls and gave the name of 
Aldwych to this district. 1 

I think we may leave this part of our subject here. 
The Danish settlement outside London fitted into the 
Anglo-Saxon settlement outside London, because both 
were tribal in form. That the new settlement of the 
Danes was kept outside London, just as the earlier 
settlement of the Saxons had been kept outside, is 
confirmatory evidence of the strength of London 
institutions as they were preserved within the city. 

1 The greater part of this study of the Danish settlement at Aldwych 
was published in Macmillaris Magazine, lxxxviii. 199-205. 


It is almost unnecessary to proceed from this 
to point out what a different order of things we 
have to deal with in Saxon times compared with 
what we have dealt with under Roman times. When 
Britain was a part of the Roman empire and London 
was a Roman city, we have to treat of military, 
commercial, and political concerns organised upon 
the vast system of a great empire ; when Britain 
was conquered by the English we have to treat of 
military, commercial, and political concerns organised 
upon the tribal system of a primitive and barbaric 
people. Each city of Roman Britain depended 
upon its place in the empire and upon its connection 
with other cities ; each tribal settlement in England 
was an almost independent unit cultivating its own 
food grounds, living upon its own cattle, thinking 
of its own concerns, engaging in no commerce, 
and attending to little outside its own tribal 

That the new order of things did not fit in 
with the older order is undoubted. London lost 
much of its hold over its territorium ; lost it as part 
of its own dominion, and retained only the right 
of chace, and certain comparatively nominal rights. 
For actual purposes of government, it retired within 
its great wall. The Saxons crept closer and closer, 
not by right of the sword, but by right of settlement. 
The little village of Charing took its place between 
Westminster and the city wall ; Kensington, Fulham, 
Chelsea, on the west ; Paddington and Islington 
on the north ; Wapping on the east, show the 
various centres of English settlement encroaching 


into the territorium of London, fairly hemming it 
in, and thrusting Londoners behind their city wall. 
That is, I believe, the nature of the English conquest 
of London, and it is there we must turn to read the 
story aright. 

How thoroughly the city of London is out of 
it all ! We seem to have arrived at a state of 
things when, instead of London being the centre 
of commerce and trade and political life, with the 
great roads converging to her as to a centre, it 
was a settled policy to ignore her, and to perform 
all the great ceremonies in the open country instead 
of inside the walls of the great city. The corona- 
tion of Artorius, Roman successor to the Celtic 
Chieftainship, King Arthur, as we know him, at 
London, Silchester, and Caerleon, three important 
Roman cities, is in direct contrast to the crowning 
of the Saxon kings ; and the coronation ceremony 
itself, with its undoubted parallels to the Roman 
forms and its almost certain derivation from Roman 
sources, 1 is in direct contrast to the English tribal 
ceremony at a rude unsculptured stone in the 
open air at Kingston or at Westminster. I shall 
show later on, how on great occasions London was 
appealed to or had her say in the election of kings, 
and I shall point to the significance of this ; but at 
present what I want to dwell upon is that the tribes 
of the Saxons were forming themselves into kingdoms, 
sub-kingdoms, and finally shires of a greater kingdom, 
without the direct aid of London and the cities — 

1 Sir J. H. Ramsay (Foundations of England, i. 328) gives the 
authorities for this. 


that gradually the state was being formed and 
was extending its authority, while the city was 
struggling against the new conditions before bending 
to the power of the state which was surely 


At the end of the Anglo-Saxon period London was 
an English city of a type which has led me to 
conclude that it was the product of the Roman 
system of polity modified by the results of English 
influence and the events of English history. We 
have discussed Roman origins and discovered Roman 
survivals. We have discussed Anglo-Saxon origins 
and discovered an overflow of English influences 
into London rather than a complete reforming 
of London by English institutions. We have, in 
particular, discussed how London kept the manorial 
system of the English and the independent settle- 
ment of the Danes outside her walls, and the 
liberties beyond her walls. The accumulative evi- 
dence for London's independence of English polity 
is, I think, sufficient. The claim for a Roman origin 
is, I think, considerable. 

This claim is opposed by all recent research and 
authority. Great authorities have long denied the 
influence of Roman institutions in English boroughs, 
and lately continental scholars are denying it in 
the boroughs of France and Germany. Professor 
Maitland, in particular, in his brilliant essays on 
Domesday, has reduced the English borough to the 
simplest dimensions and the simplest organisation. 


Behind the defended walls of the county burghs he 
can only detect the men of the shire assembled in 
defence of the shire. Never mind whether, as at 
York, Lincoln, Exeter, Dorchester, London, and 
some others, the walls were Roman walls, the sites 
were Roman sites, the men of these burghs were 
in his opinion the shire-men assembled for defence 
or were the soldiers of the shire - men assembled 
for defence. Under this theory London belonged 
to the shire-men of Middlesex, not Middlesex to the 
citizens of London ; and so at the best, when the 
curtains of history are drawn aside and we see 
Londoners passing laws for themselves in Saxon 
times, receiving charters from the Norman kings of 
rights and privileges which already existed in fact 
though not in law, we are only witnessing a group of 
armed burghers on their way towards citizenship. I 
confess this picture of shire defence is to me wholly 
inadequate to account for London, perhaps inadequate 
to account for much of the English burghal system. 
It is obviously in accord with the tribal polity of 
the stronghold. Professor Maitland does not connect 
it with this, and therein I think he weakens his 
argument. It is also obviously strengthened by a 
polity which was not tribal, and which led on towards 
a municipal organisation which was more than burghal. 
Professor Maitland does not perceive or does not grant 
this, 1 and I think he misses a very necessary element 
in the evolution of the English municipality, which, 

1 More recently Mr Chadwick, in his Studies in Anglo-Saxon Institu- 
tions, 225, claims that the burghal system was Danish in origin and 
denies to the burghs any administrative organisation. 


after all, was something over and above the burghal 
stronghold held together by the necessities of military 
defence. I therefore fall back again upon the threads 
which have connected the long period dealt with in 
this study, and conceive the municipalised burghs of 
the Anglo-Saxon period to be the product of events 
which began when Britain was a province of Rome. 
This is not claiming for the English boroughs a 
Roman origin. It is merely claiming that the shell 
at least was made of Roman materials while the 
kernel was for the most part of English make. 

That which I have by metaphor called the shell 
is an important part of London. It implies not only 
the material shell in the shape of the great Roman- 
founded wall ; but the constitutional shell in the shape 
of an organised body of men. We may be doubtful 
as to the exact shape which this organisation took, 
as to whether it was perfect in all its parts, as to 
whether it was exactly understood by the lawyers and 
formulists of Anglo-Saxon times — we may be doubt- 
ful about many of the conclusions which we of this 
age arrive at concerning it ; but there is no doubt as 
to its existence. The Londoners who fought at 
Hastings under Ansgar, their chief, were sent forth 
by the city as a part of its duty as an organised 
community, not as a mere accidental group of 
Londoners going out to fight the enemy. The 
Londoners who allowed Ansgar to negotiate with 
William, when William appeared as conqueror of 
southern England, were acting as an organised 
community under an appointed chief officer. The 
Londoners who received a charter from King William, 


strange document though it was to them, were an 
organised community. That we cannot say of this 
organisation that it possessed all the features of a 
municipal corporation under Roman government 
is only proving that our records are imperfect, not 
that the organism was imperfect. That in the transi- 
tion from the Roman form to the English form, and 
thence to the Plantagenet form, the shell of this great 
community had been at times so broken and fractured 
that its patching up produced no recognisable assimila- 
tion to a common form is possible. What I want to 
assert is that, not only was the shell there, but the 
organisation was there also. 

Now Professor Maitland, in relying upon Domes- 
day evidence, was of course conscious that in this 
great record we possess a summary, such as it is, of 
the burghal constitution in England at a very 
important date in our history. It tells us which of 
the English towns were burghs at the end of the 
Anglo-Saxon period, and if it does not tell us of the 
burghal constitution, it tells us much which must be 
of immense value. This evidence can be used, not as 
the point from which the burghal system in England 
had originated, but as the point to which the 
burghal system had converged from the momentous 
events through which it had passed. If the Roman 
cities of Britain, which were left by Rome with the 
legacy of defending Britain from the barbarian English, 
had a part in forming the English system, this will be 
best seen as they pass through the examination of the 
Domesday commissioners. If purely English cities 
arose out of the events, which shaped English polity, 


they, too, will be best seen in the Domesday record. 
We may reckon up Roman losses and English gains. 
We may see if the burghs on Roman sites differ from 
the burghs on purely English sites, and may enquire 
what this difference signifies. And we may deduce 
evidence from these comparative facts which will 
determine the type of burgh to which London 
belongs, and the type of burgh from which it differs. 
I think a comparison of London with other cities 
or burghs will be helpful in the understanding of the 
position of London, and, moreover, as I have already 
pointed out, the position of London as an English 
local institution is a necessary preliminary to the study 
of other local institutions. If, therefore, we can very 
shortly undertake such a comparison it will prove 
a necessary part of our subject. We can limit it in 
a very important manner by considering only : 

(i) The position of the Roman cities at the end 

of the Anglo-Saxon period. 
(2) The development of the English type of 

burgh on Roman sites and on English 


There are four important lists of Roman stations 
and towns, 1 but these need not be examined because 

1 Suetonius gives the number as, 20 cities in Britain (Vesp. 4) ; 
the Historia Bri toman gives 28 (cf. Zimmer, Nennius Vindicates, 108- 
110) ; Gildas (Dc Excidio Britannia:) gives 28 as the number ; Henry of 
Huntingdon gives 28 names (lib. i.) ; Mr Coote will have it that these 
colonial cities "eventually covered our island," and quotes Marcianus, 
the Heracleote, for an enumeration of 59 civitates in Britain. {Romans of 


Nennius, the British historian, gives the names of 
twenty-eight cities which may be taken to represent 
those towns which survived the destruction, described 
so graphically by Gildas, and which therefore 
represent the cities of Britain to whom the Roman 
Emperor intrusted the government of Britain when 
the Roman armies withdrew. In any case it is the 
earliest list known to us from the British side, and as 
research into this question must for present purposes 
be limited in some direction, it is well to limit it by 
this list. I purpose then to show how these cities 
appear in comparison with London. 

There are thus twenty-seven cities to compare 
with the remaining one, " Cair Londene," as it is 
termed in the Nennius list, the London of all later 
ages. It does not concern us much that the names 
are not entirely identified in a few cases, but taking 
them on the best authority available, we are able at 
once to dispose of thirteen cities named in the list. 
These are Cair Guorthegern, a castle and a territory 
on the river Gwy ; 1 Caer Cucerat, which Haig 
identifies with Cockermouth in Cumberland ; 2 
Caer Meguaid, which Haig places at Meivod in 

Britain, 123.) Dr Haig has discussed the Nennius and Gildas lists of 33 
and 28, correcting the final list to 28, by an elaborate method of dis- 
covering duplicate names in the two lists. ( Yorks Arch, and Top. Soc. 
v. 350-361.) But he starts with the assumption that the list relates to purely 
British cities, " v/e are not to expect places in his [Gildas] list which only 
rose to importance in Roman times and are known to us only from the 
Itineraries," and on this assumption concludes ii^ler alia, that Pensa uel 
Coyt must be Stanton Drew, the Druidical circle in Somersetshire, and 
Caer Urnac, Avebury. I think the assumption of a list of Celtic cities is 
entirely out of the question. There were none such. 

1 Celtic Remains (Cambrian Arch. Soc), 223. 

2 Yorks Arch. Soc. v. 358. 


Montgomeryshire ;* Caer Draithou, said to be Drayton 
in Shropshire; 2 Caer Urnac, not identified; 3 Caer 
Celemion, not identified ; 4 Caer Segeint, Silchester ; 
Caer Peris, Porchester ; Caer Ceri, Cirencester ; Caer 
Lion, Caerleon ; Caer Licilid, perhaps Lechlade in 
Gloucestershire ; 5 Caer Dauri, Dorchester in Oxford- 
shire ; and Caer Guorcon, Wroxeter ; all of which 
cities were not only not burghs, at the time of 
Domesday, but have never been in the position of 
burghs, so far as English records afford evidence. 
There are a few other places, such, for instance, as 
Kair Dorm, Dormchester, on the River Nen in 
Huntingdonshire, mentioned by Henry of Hunting- 
don, but not in the Nennius list, which might be 
worth noting here, because of the significant con- 
temporary record of utter destruction, 6 for this work 
of destruction, if not as universal as Mr Freeman 
would have us believe, went on after the first years 
of strife for conquest. 

It is indeed the key to what has to be recorded 
of the twelve cities of the Nennius list, for their 
history is only contained in their ruins, 7 and of two of 
them their ruins tell most eloquent tales of over- 
whelming destruction. These two are Silchester and 
Wroxeter. They are still English villages among 

1 Haig, op cit. 359 ; cf. Celtic Remains, 303. 

2 Irish Nennius, notes, p. iv. 

3 Haig {pp. cit. 359) would put it for Avebury. 

4 Haig {pp. cit. 359) would put it near Willoughby in Notts, but the 
author of Celtic Remains, 390, frankly says it is not to be identified. 

6 Haig, op. cit. 359. ° Historia Anglorum, lib. i. 

7 There still remained, says Beda of the year 447, the ruins of the 
cities destroyed by the enemy and abandoned (lib. i. cap xxii.). 


the fields, mingling their farm lands with the remains 
of Roman times. 

The story of their fall is to be gathered perhaps 
from the remains. The forum at Silchester was 
buried under a mass of mortar and concrete, and 
immediately underneath the thick layer of charred 
wood was found a very beautiful Roman bronze eagle, 
which, though perfect in every detail, every feather 
having been individually finished, showed that it had 
been torn away from the staff on which it stood. Was 
this, then, the eagle of the Roman legion, the banner 
of the Roman soldier, and did the Roman commander 
defend his city to the last stages from his English 
foes, standing on the steps of the forum beneath 
the shadow of the eagle, sacred symbol of the Roman 
power? We can almost imagine it must have been 
so, imagine that he saw his foes gathering at the 
entrance to the forum, that he wrenched the eagle 
from its staff, and placed it in the rafters of 
the building, where it was safe from capture and 
destruction, which was to be the lot of those who 
fought under its wings. And then when the last 
came, when the place was fired by the terrible 
foe, and buildings and all were destroyed in one 
common ruin — the searchers of to-day find the eagle 
amidst the embers of a fire lighted by our English 
ancestors more than thirteen hundred years agone, 
but still able to tell something of its story. 1 Whether 

1 This is Mr Joyce's story of Silchester in Archczologia, xl. 403-416 ; 
xlvi. 329-365 ; the systematic excavation of the site has since been 
undertaken, and the record of this magnificent piece of work is contained 
in Archceologia, lii. and continuing volumes, the work being still in 



this is so or not no one can tell, but I think the 
reading from the ruins of Wroxeter is somewhat 
more decisive. In one of the hypocausts discovered 
among the ruins three human skeletons were found. 
One of these appeared to have been crouching in a 
corner, and the other two were lying extended by 
the side of the wall. The crouching form had been 
that of an old man ; the two others appear to have 
been females. At a very short distance from the 
skeleton of the old man lay a little heap of one 
hundred and thirty-two small copper coins, and 
among them a few small iron nails and remains of 
decayed wood which showed that the coins must 
have been enclosed in a small wooden coffer. Here 
then, is a grim record of the sack of Uriconium. 
These three individuals — husband, wife, and daughter, 
it may be — had sought concealment by creeping into 
the hypocaust, and then the old man had tried to 
secure the money which was in his reach. Perhaps 
they had been suffocated in their place of refuge ; 
perhaps the burning buildings had fallen in and 
blocked up their passage outwards. In any case 
here is a terrible story of the ruin of Wroxeter, the 
Uriconium of Roman Britain. 1 Caerleon is another 
famous Roman site with no English history except 
as a ruin. Giraldus Cambrensis, who wrote an 
account of his journey into Wales in the reign of 
Henry II., tells us that he then saw many vestiges of 
its former splendour, " immense palaces ornamented 
with gilded roofs in imitation of Roman magnificence, 
a tower of prodigious size, remarkable hot baths, 

1 Wright, Uriconium, 118. 


relics of temples and theatres enclosed by walls 
parts of which remain standing," 1 but all deserted. 

Caer Peris (Porchester), and Caer Ceri (Cirencester), 
have a slightly different history. They have become 
English villages with the English village constitution. 
Porchester still possesses the Roman castle and other 
remains of the Roman period, 2 but we have to pass 
straight to the Domesday survey for its next record 
in history, and then we find it held upon the English 
manorial tenure of the normal type. Cirencester was 
conquered by the Saxons in 577, 3 and at the Domes- 
day survey along with its Roman ruins it retained 
evidence of its reorganisation on tribal lines, a survival, 
according to Mr Seebohm, of mixed Welsh and English 
customs. 4 It is important in this connection that there 
is evidence both of conquest and destruction and of 
reoccupation by the conquerors, reoccupation meaning 
not a continuity of Roman forms of government but 
of the tribal forms of the English. Cirencester was 
not only an English manor of the normal type, but 
the head of the hundred to which it gave its name. 
It is clear that comparison with these cities of 
Roman Britain leads us either to the definite story of 
English conquest followed silently by English settle- 
ment, or to the indefinite story of English neglect 
followed by English settlement more slowly, neither 

1 Giraldus Cambrensis, Itinerary through Wales, cap. v. 
3 These have been elaborately examined by Mr C. H. Hartshorne in 
the Winchester volume of the Archaeological Institute. 

3 Cirencester is one of the places to which is applied the legend of 
having been destroyed by means of combustible matter being tied to the 
tails of sparrows, who flew to the town, and thus set fire to the houses. 

4 Seebohm, English Village Community, 2 1 1. 


of which results can by any possible line of research 
show a parallel to the condition of things at London. 
We proceed, then, with the remaining fourteen 
cities, and it will be well to take first of all three 
cases which show the same dread story of conquest 
and settlement, but in a different manner to those 
already related. These three cases are Caer Caratauc 
(Verulamium), Caer Grant (Grantchester), and Cair 
Cei (Caistor), 1 all of which show the destruction of 
the Roman city and the rebuilding of the English 
burgh mostly with Roman material, not on the 
site of the destroyed Roman city but on a site 
adjoining, Verulamium becoming English St Albans, 
Grantchester becoming English Cambridge, Caistor 
becoming English Norwich. There can be no 
question about what has happened here. Beda 
describes Grantchester as a small abandoned city in 
a.d. 660 2 and an old rhyme of traditional antiquity 
proclaims that 

" Caistor was a city when Norwich was none, 
And Norwich was built of Caistor stone." 3 

Norwich, founded since the conquest, held lands in 
commune^ and so late as 1835 the freemen of the city 
received " annually one shilling each for the rent of 
the town close estate, which was formerly a common." 5 
How important this point is as a distinguishing 

1 Henry of Huntingdon identifies this place with Chichester, but 
Haig {op. tit. 359) makes out a good case for Caistor. 

2 Beda, lib. iv. cap. 19. 

3 Thompson, English Municipal History, no. 

4 Mr Round in Victoria County History of Essex, i. 423. 
6 Mun. Corp. Com. 1835, iv. 2466. 


English feature will be better illustrated a little 
later on, but its contrast to London may at once be 
drawn. These three cases are English cities built 
out of the ruins of the Roman cities which they 
supplanted, and, as might be expected, they reflect 
nothing but their English origin. 


We come now to the remaining eleven cities, all 
of them occupying Roman sites, some of them still 
within Roman-built walls, but not all of them with 
a continuous burghal history, for one of them was 
not a burgh at the time of Domesday, having become 
a borough of the constitutional type in later ages. 

This latter case is Carlisle, which was made a 
borough by William Rufus, but which was given by 
Egfrid in a.d. 685, with almost contemptuous 
indifference, to St Cuthbert, when it was still a ruined 
Roman city with a territorium of 15 miles round 
about the same. 1 The significance of the territorial 
grants by early English kings being situated beyond 
the sphere of tribal territory is very great, and 
Carlisle appears to me to be an important illustration 
of this point. 2 It was a Roman city with its own 

1 The charter is given by Kemble, Cod. Dip. i. No. xxv. " donavi eciam 
civitatem quae vocatur Lugubalia, et in circuitu ejus quindecim miliaria." 

2 This is a difficult matter to prove, for it requires local topo- 
graphical knowledge of a wide and special kind, including that most 
difficult of all subjects, the philology of local nomenclature. But it 
gains support from many sources the more closely enquiry is made. 
And in particular it is not a little significant to note that the lands 
left by ^Elfred in his will scattered about in all parts of the country are 
summarised by the significant sentence "that is all which I have 


territorium, and as such was of no importance to 
the English tribesmen of the seventh century. The 
English king could do as he willed with conquered 
territory of this kind, and so Carlisle passed into 
the domain of St Cuthbert. From the seventh 
century to the eleventh it lay practically dormant, 
and only reappears as a borough in post- Domesday 

There now finally remains from the Nennius list of 
Roman cities in Britain a group of ten which occupy 
Roman sites, which were burghs at the time of 
Domesday, which are English boroughs now. Here, 
if anywhere, the parallel with London should be close 
and conspicuous if we are to get close and conspicuous 
parallels at all. 

The cities belonging to this group are Cair Ebrauc 
(York), Cair Ceint (Canterbury), Caer Guorancguon 
(Worcester), Caer Merdin (Caermarthen), Caer Britoc, 
(Bristol), Caer Guent (Winchester), Caer Collon 
(Colchester), Caer Lerion (Leicester), Caer Loit Coit, 
Lincoln, and Caer Gloui (Gloucester). 

Let me note at this stage that we have come 
across in the story of some of these cities, such as 

among the Welsh race excepting Cornwall." (Thorpe, Diplomatarium 
Anglicum, p. 488.) " Synd ealle de ic on Wealcynne ha?bbe butan 
triconscire." Egfrid's grant of Carlisle and its territorium is perhaps 
paralleled by another donation by which Cartmel in Lancashire was 
given "with the Britons belonging to the same" — "et omnes Britanni 
cum ea." (Palgrave, E?ig. Com. i. 436 and ii. p. cccxi.) The fact that in 
all the early wills and grants which deal with actual gifts apart from 
charter rights, the lands of the donor are scattered about in many parts 
of the country leads one to suggest that the cause is that these lands 
were lands acquired from the conquered Celts. But the whole subject 
deserves special enquiry, for it opens up an important phase in the 
history of early English lordship. 


Porchester, Silchester, Cirencester, the manorialisa- 
tion of the ancient Roman sites which have become 
English villages and not English boroughs. Now 
that we are approaching the sites on which have 
grown English boroughs, we may enquire, first of 
all, whether there is evidence of the English manorial 
system forming the basis of or intruding into the 
municipal organisation, and, secondly, whether there 
is evidence in the municipal organisation itself of 
a system which equates with the manorial system, 
of a municipal life, that is, which is not bounded by 
the town walls and gates, but stretched out in quite 
a special fashion into agricultural lands beyond, and 
whether this organisation is of the administrative 
type. This will place the comparison with London 
upon quite a definite footing. 

I do not propose to go into minute details, for all 
that is needed for present purposes are general 
principles relating to the manorial organisation, and 
to the possession of common lands. We obtain the 
first step by an examination of the municipal 
boundaries of the ten cities under consideration. It 
will be remembered that London was contained 
within the Roman walls with a fringe of so-called 
liberties beyond, formed, it was suggested, from the 
remains of the ancient Roman Pomcerium. Of the 
cases before us we find from the maps published in 
the reports of the municipal boundary commission 
in 1835 that very limited boundaries formed the 
municipal jurisdiction in York, Canterbury, Worcester, 
Bristol, Winchester, Leicester, and Gloucester, com- 
pared with very extensive boundaries into the 


agricultural lands beyond at Colchester, Lincoln, 
and Carmarthen. Here, then, are two different types, 
seven conforming topographically more or less to 
the London type, and three being distinctly different. 
Let us consider the latter three cases in the first 
place. Colchester occupies its Roman site, still 
possesses its Roman walls and its vast supply of 
Roman remains recovered for the museum when- 
ever the modern surface is being excavated. 
Although Dr Guest and Mr Freeman think there 
is more reason in the case of Colchester than in 
other cases to talk of a continuous occupation through 
Roman, British, and English days, 1 the story of 
Colchester is not the story of a Roman town. How 
essentially English it is we can see by its use in 
Anglo-Saxon times as a defensive postition. Occupied 
by the Danes, it was retaken by the English, and 
Edward the Elder, having repaired its wall where it 
" tobroken was" in 921, it became by its final settle- 
ment an English burgh whose principal features 
are fortunately recorded in Domesday, and have 
equally fortunately been examined by Mr J. H. 
Round. 2 Burgesses at Colchester held lands in 
commune, and had communcm pasturam? and there 
seems to me no doubt that the municipal lands were 
lands of the ordinary English type. Mr Chadwick 
would give to Colchester simply the burghal organisa- 
tion due to Danish influences and without adminis- 

1 Freeman, English Towns and Districts, 395-397. 

2 See Victoria County History of Essex, i. 414-424. 

3 See particularly Mr Round's papers in Antiquary, vol. v. and vi ; 
compare Freeman, English Towns and Districts, 408-409. 


trative powers. 1 In this Mr Chadwick does not go 
far enough with his researches, I think. Community 
of land holding carries with it administrative organ- 
isation and an organisation, too, far in advance of 
burghal requirements. 

At Lincoln we have much the same evidence of 
an undoubted Roman site girt in with Roman walls, 
with Roman remains constantly discovered to illustrate 
the period of Roman history, and then of a completely 
English organisation. Mr Freeman will have it that 
"the city has kept up its continuous being through 
Roman, English, Danish, and Norman conquests," : 
and he rightly insists on the importance of the name 
Lincoln, Lindum Colonia, as a feature which dis- 
tinguishes the Roman character of Lincoln over and 
above every other city, arguing that " there was no 
Roman town in Britain whose strength and majesty 
made a deeper impression on our fathers than the 
colony of Lindum." 3 But Mr Freeman does not 
distinguish. The English might admire but they 
conquered and occupied. Chronological continuity 
is not constitutional continuity, and the mere fact of 
continuance year by year, or with ever so short a 
break, is of no significance unless with it is carried 
the really significant fact of continuity of institutions. 
This we do not get ; and I think Leland's words fit 

1 Studies in Anglo-Saxon Institutions, 225. 

2 English Towns and Districts ; 192. 

5 Ibid. 199. See, however, Mr Bradley and the correspondence in the 
Academy, 21st October 1893 to December, on the name not being derived 
from Lindum Colonia. Mr Plummer does not think Mr Bradley proved 
his case (Beda, ii. 108), but the argument is worth further consideration 
by philologists. 


the case: " after the destruction of this old Lincoln 
men began to fortifie the souther parte of the hill, 
new diching, waulling, and gating it, and so was 
new Lincoln made out of a pece of old Lincoln by 
the Saxons." 1 It is true we have to consider Beda's 
description of the conversion of Lincoln to Christianity 
by means of the example set by Blecca, prcefectus 
Lindocolinae civitatis ; that in the name of the prefect 
as well as in his title we may have veritable examples 
of living Roman institutions ; that the Eadwin who 
conquered Lincoln was also the Bretwalda whom we 
have already noted, taking upon himself the trappings 
of Roman dignity ; 2 but even with these facts we 
have also the facts of ascertained conquest and of 
the results of conquest. We have, too, the results 
of settlement living on to modern times. The city 
customs are quite sufficiently of the normal English 
type to find their way into Domesday. There were 
twelve lawmen as there were at Stamford, and they 
probably answered to the xii. judices civitatis of 
Chester ; 3 and there were burgesses besides, of whom 
it is recorded that the churches and burgesses of 
Lincoln had amongst them thirty-six crofts in the 
city and, as I read it, the whole of " Lincoln field 
outside the city," except 12J carucates of land held 
by the king and the earl and others. This Lincoln 
field is a living institution of the English type. There 
is nothing Roman about it. In 1835 it was still in 
existence, for the freemen had then "exclusive rights 

1 Hearne, Lei and Itinerary, i. 32. 

2 Beda, ii. cap. xvi. 

3 Ellis, Introduction to Domesday, i. 205 ; Maitland, Domesday and 
Beyond, 211 ; Ballard, Domesday Boroughs, 51. 


to stock the common of the city and to hold leases 
of the city property." There were four of these 
commons and the corporation are lords of the manor 
and hold their court leet. 1 

I see nothing in the history of the Welsh city 
to seriously differentiate it from the two English 
cities. Carmarthen is the home of Geoffrey's Merlin, 
that son of a princess of Dimetia, daughter of the 
king, whose father was unknown, and whose mother 
lived in St Peter's Church among the nuns of the city, 
called afterwards Kaermerdin. 2 It was the Roman 
Maridunum, and Giraldus states that it was "enclosed 
with walls of brick part of which were still standing in 
his day." 3 Through whatever vicissitudes of fortune 
it underwent in times immediately following the retire- 
ment of the Romans and the massing of the retreating 
British into Wales, it finishes as a borough of the 
normal type, with its court of view of frankpledge, 
and its court of pie-poudre, with its castle site not 
within the municipal jurisdiction and in possession 
of extensive property. 4 

The remaining cities are municipal towns of 
limited areas, areas limited, as it is easy to see, by 
the ancient walls. But there is this curious point 
about them. The municipal organisation extends 
beyond the municipal area so as to include agri- 
cultural lands beyond, held in common by the 
burgesses. As at Colchester, Lincoln, and Car- 
marthen, there are burghal lands belonging to the 

1 Mun. Corp. Com. iv. 2350, 2352, 2357, 2362. 

2 Geoffrey of Monmouth, Hist. Brit. vi. cap. xvii. 

3 Giraldus Cambrensis, Itinerary through Wales^ cap. x. 

4 Mun. Corp. Com. i. 203, 210, 212, 215. 


burghers in common, but unlike Colchester, Lincoln, 
and Carmarthen, these lands are not included in the 
municipal boundaries. What this division between 
municipal boundaries and the area covered by the 
municipal organisation exactly means I am not 
prepared to say. It is evidently more the normal 
type than the other three cases, where municipal 
boundaries include the agricultural lands. It may 
be due to comparatively late influences. But what- 
ever the causes for the division of boundaries, the 
fact of an extensive municipal organisation remains, 
and this is the point upon which I must lay stress. 
The first of these cities is undoubtedly York. 
One might have expected that here, at all events, 
we might find a duplication of the facts relating to 
London. But we do not. The facts relating to 
London are represented by very few parallels, one 
of which is the significant rule as to heirship and 
succession already noted, and by a sort of controlling 
power by London by which " the custom of London is 
said to control that of York." 1 In all else we find 
a duplication of most of the facts relating to Lincoln 
and Colchester, including the important possession 
of arable and pasture lands allotted to the freemen, 
but allotted in such a form, each ward having its 
separate arable and pasture allotments, as to confirm 
Sir Henry Maine's belief, " that some European cities 
were originally nothing more than the township-mark 
of a Teutonic village community grown to greatness, 

>> 2 

1 Pulling, Laws and Customs of London, 3. 

2 Maine, Village Communities, 118. I have worked out the place of 
York in English local institutions rather fully in the Cornhill Magazine 


and to afford the most striking contrast of all to the 
condition of things at London. 

Canterbury, the Roman Durovernum, was early 
in possession of the Saxon conquerors of east Kent. 
Mr Wright thought that the discoveries of Saxon 
interments in the Roman burial-places show that the 
Saxon occupation was a peaceful succession to Roman 
organisation, 1 and there is some confirmation of this 
in the words of a charter of ^Ethelheard in 805, 
referring to the prefect of the corporation of the 
town " in hac regali villa inlustris civitatis praefectus," 
thus making a distinction between the governing 
authority and the town. 2 Possibly, too, in the little 
church of St Martin we have an actual Roman build- 
ing, but there is little else to tell us of the Roman 
city. At the time of Domesday, on the contrary, it 
is in complete English garb. The burgesses had 45 
masures without the city, and of the king 33 acres 
in their geld, and Mr Ballard gives good reason for 
believing that this was a collective holding of property. 8 
The corporation still holds houses and lands in various 
parts of the city ; there are still several precincts not 
within the jurisdiction of the city ; the wards are 
governed by their court leets, and the manorial 
organisation is thus formed ; the pound-keeper, the 
borsholders, and the blower of the burghmote horn 
who gave notice to the courts of burghmote by 

for November 1906. The curious allusion in the Irish version of 
Nennius (p. 66) to the " Green " of the city of York is worth noting. 

1 Wright, Celt, Roman, and Saxon, 510. 

2 Kemble, Cod. Dip. i. No. clxxxix. 

3 Ballard, Domesday Boroughs, 87, 89 ; Cf. Maitland, Domesday and 
Beyond, 201. 


blowing a horn near the houses of the members — 
all of which signalises that Canterbury had entered 
very early into its English life. 1 

Bristol has very little to contribute to the points 
we are dealing with. It was destroyed by the Saxons 
before they occupied it. 2 Later we see it fully 
manorialised, for in a case before the courts in the 
year 1341 it was stated that "the manor of Bristol 
extends into two counties," 3 and its Tolsey court and 
court of pie-poudre lasted to later days. 4 Worcester 
was built between 873 and 899 "for St Peter's and 
the church at Worcester ... as a protection to all 
the people and also to raise the praise of God 
therein." 5 Gloucester was very early captured by the 
English Cuthwine and Ceawlin, who, fighting against 
the Britons in 577, took from them three cities — 
Gloucester, Cirencester, and Bath ; and Kemble very 
rightly draws attention to the fact that this must 
have meant the country which these cities dominated 
as well as the cities themselves. 6 When it rose 
aorain as a burgh it was in English fashion. Domes- 
day does not distinguish it from other burghs, and 
later on it is possessed of its court leet, while its 
freemen enjoyed extensive rights of common and 

1 Mun. Corp. Com. ii. 683, 692, 697, 707. 

2 Seyer, Memoir of Bristol, i. 276. 

3 Year Book, 14 and 15 Edward III. 184. 

4 Mun. Corp. Com. ii. 11 55, 1172, 1174. 

5 Kemble, Cod. Dip. v. No. mlxxv ; Thorpe, Dip. Anglicum, 


6 Anglo-Saxon Chro?iicle, anno 577 ; Kemble, Saxons in England, 295. 
The allusion of William of Malmesbury to these cities as the strongly 
fortified places of refuge to which the Britons retreated (i. cap. ii.) is also 


owned in their corporate capacity a large part of 
the houses in the city. 1 

There are Winchester and Leicester still to 
consider, and both have special features which 
differentiate them somewhat from the other cases. 
Still the final result is the English burgh system 
and not a system founded upon a Roman original. 
Winchester is dominated by its bishop ; its municipal 
territory is surrounded by the soke of the bishop and 
the bishop's court, the Cheney court, as it is called, 
has a jurisdiction which includes the city in a larger 
area of some 30 miles from the centre. 2 It may be 
that we have here traces of the territorium of the 
Roman city, but if so it is separated effectually 
from the English city. Leicester belongs to the 
story of ^Ethelflsed, Lady of the Mercians, who in 
918 got the burgh "into her power peacefully; 
and the greatest part of the army which belonged 
thereto became subjected to her." 3 What this army 
which belonged to Leicester really signifies one 
cannot exactly say. It looks as if it might be the 
remains of the military organisation of the Roman 
city. Leicester also possessed in significant fashion 
its liberties, which extended half a mile round the 
town. In any case it was manorialised. It is 
termed a manor by the charter of Elizabeth, and 
possessed the ordinary manorial organisation, includ- 
ing a town field unenclosed until 18 10, lammas land, 
and other properties. 4 

1 Mun. Corp. Co?n. i. 61, 62, 66. 

2 Ibid. ii. 895, 904, 905. 

' Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, anno 918. 
4 Mun. Corp. Con. iii. 1889, 1893, J 894- 



We have thus traced out in ever so brief a fashion, 
but in sufficient detail I think for our purpose, the 
dominant features of the sister cities to London, 
which were left by their Roman founders with the 
government of Britain. Where, as Roman cities, 
they are not destroyed physically they are destroyed 
constitutionally. All that was Roman was put on 
one side and all that was English took its place. 
They appear as burghs of the English type, not 
cities of the Roman type, and not as cities of the 
London type. The territorium of these cities held for 
general purposes and for purposes of administration 
has entirely disappeared, and in its place we discover 
the lands of burghs with either the actual government 
of an English manor or the normal type of manorial 
organisation. The exceptions are Winchester, where 
perhaps the Church took over the ancient juris- 
diction of the territorium, and Leicester, where the 
great sister of the great King Alfred took over the 
Leicester army. In all other cases the burghs are 
in possession of burghal lands, generally the same 
kind of possession as that which distinguishes the 
agricultural village communities of early and primitive 
politics. Burghs and burghal lands are combined 
into one solid possession for the economic use and 
benefit of the burghers. 

This solidarity, if I may so speak, of the burghal 
lands is, I think, destined to play a very important 
part in the legal history of the borough whenever 
English lawyers will cease to apply the legal 


terminology of modern times to the historical con- 
ditions of early times. No one will, I suppose, 
doubt that a system of common land-owning and 
common land-cultivation obtained in all the com- 
munities of England, at least from Anglo - Saxon 
times. Mr Seebohm's statistical proofs go so far 
even if my anthropological proofs are not generally 
accepted for a yet earlier origin. No one will 
doubt that the boundaries of the lands so held 
and so cultivated became, at least in historical 
times, of great importance and were defended with 
pertinacious force. No one who takes the trouble 
to read the curious accounts of beating the bounds 
will doubt the survival of practices which take us 
back to human sacrifice perhaps, certainly to animal 
sacrifice, and to other indications of primitive or pre- 
historic ceremonial, 1 and to the frequent occurrences 
of practices which tell in favour of a vigorous 
common life of the town whereby " the rectification 
of frontiers was resented as stoutly as a new 
delimitation of kingdoms and empires to-day." 2 All 
the same, because boroughs were not legal corpora- 
tions until late in mediaeval times, and because 
the influence of the king and his constant inter- 
ference in municipal matters are everywhere apparent, 
these and other legal facts are taken not only 
to determine the legal history and position of 
the burgh, but to dominate the views as to the 
evidence of origins. The fact is that the history 
of the burgh affords important testimony of a 

1 Cf. Mrs Green, Town Life in the Fifteenth Century ; i. 134. 

2 Ibid. 136. 



totally different character, testimony which belongs 
to the domain of comparative jurisprudence, and 
which reveals the incapacity of Norman lawyers, 
trained in all the advanced technicalities of Roman 
jurisprudence, to comprehend the constitutional and 
economical conditions of communities which were 
as far behind the political conceptions of our 
Plantagenet kings and their lawyers and ministers, 
as the Irish tribal communities were behind the 
political conception of Elizabethan lawyers, or as the 
Hindu communities of to-day were behind the 
political conceptions of the English viceroys and 
English lawyers before the days of Sir Henry 
Maine. They could not describe what they did not 
understand. I confess that this reflection has a 
special reference to the conclusions arrived at by 
our latest distinguished historians of English law, 
Sir Frederick Pollock and Mr Maitland, who assert 
that the borough of the thirteenth century had " very 
little property, if under the term property we include 
merely the ownership of lands and goods," although 
in saying this they 

" do not intend to deny that there were some few instances 
in which the borough corporation or the men of the borough 
by some sort of communal title (we must needs use a very 
vague phrase) had held land from an extremely remote time. 
This may have been so at Malmesbury ; but we are fully 
persuaded that such cases were rare" 1 

— that is to say because Malmesbury has yielded 
to the pressure of scientific investigation, and has 

1 History of English Law, i. 638, 640. 


been duly placed among the village communities of 
England, 1 other boroughs whose records are not 
so complete or which have not been examined in 
the same manner, are to be held up against it to 
force an artificial case of proportions. Malmesbury 
in England has to be compared with Lauder in 
Scotland and Kells in Ireland and with all the other 
types of English boroughs before the question of the 
formation of the purely English boroughs on English 
sites can be dismissed. I quite admit that the legal 
difficulties, as stated by Mr Maitland in the way of 
considering the mediaeval borough as a land-owning 
corporation, are very great, but I am not yet pre- 
pared to admit that legal difficulties are necessarily 
a bar to using the evidence for what it is worth 
scientifically in the early history of institutions. 
If the land held by the burghers, cultivated by 
the burghers in an extremely archaic fashion, and 
passing to the customary successors of burghers 
of one generation to those of the next generation in 
a fashion quite outside the legal rules of succession, 
is not sufficient to dub the burghs of the thirteenth 
century legal corporations, I am content to leave 
this negation to the lawyers, and to accept for my 
present purpose the fact that this code of land 
rights has at all events been of sufficient force to 
determine the extent and boundaries of the borough 
organisation when it was at last endowed with the 
status of a corporation in the legal sense. English 
boroughs on English sites and English boroughs on 
Roman sites both tell the same story, for they differ 

1 In my Village Community \ 187-200. 


from each other in small points of detail only, and 
their manorial and agricultural organisation must be 
taken count of in the comparative history of English 
institutions. 1 

The net result of our examination of the com- 
parative history of English cities is I submit to 
satisfy us that no real parallel with London lies there. 
Destruction in one form or another or development 
in the English direction are the alternative results 
obtained, and against these there is perhaps the 
doubtful exception of Exeter, which is not one of 
the Nennius cities, under one or two heads. The 
uprising of the English city was in fact due to a 
great extent to ecclesiastical influences. At York, 
Winchester, Canterbury, Worcester, and Gloucester, 
the Church was plainly dominant, and in other cases 
there is only less evidence of this because the issues 
were not so great. That London is unique in the 
evidence she affords as a local English institution 
seems therefore to be made out all along the line. 
This result strengthens instead of weakens the 
argument that a particular set of circumstances have 
allowed London to have a continuous and influencing 
life from Roman times. It would have been difficult 
to have sustained this for any other city than 
London. The tribal organisation which beat against 
the walls of the defended Roman towns has left too 
many of its traces in after times for those walls to 

1 I examined this subject many years ago in a paper contributed 
to Archceologia, xlvi. 403-422, under the title of "Traces of the Primitive 
Village Community in English Municipal Institutions," also" Malmesbury 
as a Village Community," Ibid. 1. 421-438. 


have been left intact except through a combination 
of circumstances which could perhaps have occurred 
only once. This is the verdict which I submit for 
acceptance, and I go forward to see what there is in 
later London history which may have received the 
impress of its Roman origin, and its Anglo-Saxon 


Undoubtedly what has been examined up to this 
point relates to London in an unformed state — a 
state that was influenced by the position of London 
but which never quite included London in its own 
formal organisation. We have now to pass from the 
period of unformed constitution to the period of 
definite state constitution. That the English state 
was not imposed upon Britain in a complete form 
allows us to see, during the period of final making, 
many of the elements which belong to the period of 
pre-formation. That the period of its final making 
was the Norman period and the agents, the 
conscious agents, were the policy and acts of the 
Norman sovereigns, introduces us to an entirely new 
condition of things whereby the state is seen acting 
as the central government, imposing its will upon all 
parts of the country, upon London as upon all parts. 
The old and the new conditions were both active 
forces in the early days of the Norman settlement, 
the one surely if slowly attaining the completeness of 
its new position, the other struggling, though struggling 
in vain, to retain its old position. If these two 
opposites can be detected in the Norman history of 
London they will afford further evidence of the 


conditions of London prior to the Norman settle- 
ment as well as of the methods by which it was 
made to conform to Norman theory and practice ; for 
it is impossible to assume that the assertion of 
positions inconsistent with Norman theory can be 
due to any other causes than those which belong to 
circumstances before Norman theory was interposed. 
Further, if Norman theory has to struggle for its 
position, the fact will afford proof that the opposition 
of London to it was powerful and strong, founded on 
deep foundations, not fitful and accidental, the mere 
result of opposition to change. 

These are the considerations with which we must 
approach the position of Norman London as a con- 
tribution to the unfolding of London as an English 
city, and it will be found that they group themselves 
round the following subjects : 

(a) Norman Governance of London. 
(6) The Charters. 

(c) London and the Sovereignty. 

(d) Municipal Law in the City. 

(e) The Growth of State Law. 

I shall proceed with the subject in this order. It will 
not be possible, and I do not think it will be necessary, 
to tell the story of succeeding centuries in minute 
detail. All that is needed is the general outline, 
illustrated by a few significant facts which have from 
time to time found a record among the city archives 
and by such constitutional details of city government 
as may be necessary for the purpose. I shall leave 
nothing out which may tell in favour of a different con- 
struction from that I prefer to take, but I shall not 


overburden the enquiry by referring to details in 
chronological order, simply because they happen to 
exist. So much has been left unnoticed that it is 
most essential to get the main features properly 
detailed and properly classified. The smallest point 
may in this respect become of the greatest significance, 
while facts which are already well to the fore may 
be comparatively unimportant. I shall aim at a 
general survey of the later history, picking up the 
constitutional points as they occur, and leaving on 
one side all that does not illustrate in one way or 
another the object in view. 

We shall have for our guidance an entirely new 
element, namely, documentary history. But this 
will guide us aright only if we approach it from the 
ages behind. It is too much the habit of historical 
enquirers to study documents through the vista 
created by later events, instead of trying to find 
in them the continuation of events from the earlier 
period. Looked at from this latter point of view, we 
have a city under the domination of the sovereign, 
but entering on occasions into strange and powerful 
relations to that sovereign. Following on all that 
has been said about the position of London under 
the Saxon sovereignty, its domination under the 
Norman sovereignty introduces an entirely new 
element, and we may expect to find evidence both 
of its old independence of the sovereign power, and 
of its new dependence upon the sovereign power. 
We should find this dual phase of London life, if we 
find it at all, first in the existence of municipal laws, 
or municipal acts of government, which are the laws 


and acts of the citizens, unconsciously continuing laws 
and acts which were always theirs, and, secondly, in the 
existence of laws imposed by the sovereign. There 
can be no mistaking the distinction between these 
two classes of laws. They exist on altogether different 
conditions. Municipal laws and acts will be found 
to lessen and disappear ; sovereign laws will be 
found to develop and increase. If it is true that 
the state sovereignty of the Norman kings brought 
London under its dominion we shall find the process 
by which it was brought about, not in any one 
document or in any one act, but in the relationship 
of municipal to state law. That it is possible 
to speak of the Norman documentary history of 
London in terms implying a distinction between 
the municipality and the state is evidence, I think, 
of the correctness of approaching our examination 
of this history after having ascertained the facts of 
the earliest period. I do not, of course, say that 
the Norman documents do not suggest the need of 
some such explanation as I have attempted to supply 
from the Saxon and the Roman evidence, but the 
latter stands upon its own foundations, and there- 
fore may be said to give additional support to the 
reading of the strangely dual history which is to 
be obtained from Norman times as it has been 
obtained from Anglo-Saxon times. 

We shall find, indeed, that the Norman policy 
was a new era for the cities and towns of Britain. 
Up to this stage we have had to deal with the 
evidence of neglect by the conqueror — to show that 
Saxon conquerors left the cities which survived the 


conquest alone, and settled in the lands around 
them, and in the case of London to show how 
this policy allowed the old Roman independence to 
be kept up to some extent. Now there is some- 
thing entirely different. Saxon defensive towns were 
appropriated for Norman military purposes. Every- 
where the Norman keep and castle rear their magnifi- 
cent height and strength and dominate the whole town. 
Go where we will among the English cities we shall 
note that the Norman castle is built on the older 
mound, and is built to hold the city in the power of 
its lord. There can be no question amid such con- 
ditions as to the place of the town in the Norman 
system. It was geographically at the foot of the 
castle, and politically at the foot of the castle's lord. 
The lord of the cities and towns of England was t<he 
king ; and in this very significant fact I see, not a 
sign of the ancient importance of cities and towns 
as most historians have suggested, but a sign of 
their new importance, a sign that the cities and 
towns were definitely placed under the sovereignty 
of the king — were definitely, in fact for the first 
time, integral parts of the English state. The 
English state was, in fact, formed. 


The position of London during the Norman period 
can best be understood by noting, in the first place, 
her position at the last great fight of the Saxons for 
England — that terrible and magnificent battle of 
Hastings of which everybody knows. 

London had claimed, and obtained her claim, to 
form the guard of the English king and of his 
standard. 1 How well the city carried out her trust is 
shown by the records of the slaughter and by the 
wounds which the leader of the Londoners, Ansgar 
the sheriff, bore back to his home, among the few, the 
very few, who escaped that fatal day, owing to the 
simple fact that he was not wounded enough to die. 
The next step was a constitutional step. Harold, the 
king, was dead, and the throne thus vacant must be 
filled. London gave no thought to William, conqueror 
though he was. The witan which assembled within 
its walls on that woeful October day included the 
citizens of London and the shipmen, the " butscarls," 
as Florence of Worcester styles them, and they chose 
Eadgar the ^theling, the grandson of Eadmund 
Ironside, to be king of the English. At the same 

1 Freeman, Hist. Norm. Cong. iii. 426. 



time the Londoners declared for battle, not sur- 
render. 1 

Nothing shows more clearly the independence of 
action by London than the events of these days. 
London declared for battle and defence ; Northumber- 
land and Mercia, led by the earls, Edwine and 
Morkere, declared for the defence of Northumberland 
and Mercia, and not of England. Mr Freeman calls 
this the betrayal and ruin of England within the walls 
of London. 2 It was so in effect no doubt. It was 
so with our ideas of the political state and of the 
municipal city. But behind this there is the large 
question which we have just investigated, and we 
know that the city of London was not so connected 
with the state as to voice the decision of the state at 
this crisis ; and indeed that there was hardly a state 
— an English state — yet in existence which could be 
said to have a relationship one way or another with 
the city of London. London was acting against 
the conqueror independently ; Wessex, Kent, and 
generally the southern parts of the country were 
in agreement with London, and so helped to form the 
national witan which assembled within her walls for 
deliberation ; but Northumbria and Mercia thought 
differently, and acted differently — acted disastrously, 
if we like to think so, acted meanly and contemptibly, 
if we like to judge by modern ideas, but I do not think 
they acted traitorously. They could not be traitors to 
a state which was not formed. By the very facts as 
they are told us it is seen that London, equally with 
Northumbria and Mercia, equally with Kent and 

1 Freeman, Hist. Norm. Conq. iii. 530. 2 Ibid. iii. 532. 


Wessex, acted according to its individual interests, 
and not according to the common interests of all 
the land. The earls Morkere and Edwine hoped to 
keep their northern kingdom in their own hands, 
hoped, perhaps, to free themselves from bonds which 
were beginning to be riveted by the growing 
development of the state. They certainly had no 
sympathy with London and its power. London 
probably had no sympathy with them — earls of the 
north which was almost an unknown territory to men 
of the south. In whatever way we look at the events 
we are bound to see that Northumbria and London 
were not in political accord. 

It is thus that London appears at the dawn of 
the Norman era ; it is thus that the elements of 
the future state appear. Not welded, perhaps not 
in definite relationship. And when London found 
out that the policy of resistance to William without 
the co-operation of Northumbria and Mercia was not 
practicable, it took another course — a course quite 
independent of what Northumbria might wish or 
might attempt to do, a course no doubt dictated by 
its own views of the situation, a course it had taken 
on previous occasions when Anglo-Saxons, when 
Danes, appeared as the sovereign power, but a course 
which would bring it into relationship for the first time 
with a veritable conqueror. I will tell the first steps 
of these events as far as possible in the language of 
Mr Freeman, because it will help me in my argument 
afterwards to use this distinguished historian's con- 
clusions wherever I can agree with him. 

The story is indeed a remarkable one. William 


marching from Hastings to Romney, "took what 
vengeance he would for the slaughter of his men." 
Thence he went to Dover, the castle and town 
surrendering to him without a blow, and the citizens 
were dealt with leniently. As William was on his 
march from Dover to Canterbury messengers met 
him bearing the submission of that city. Winchester, 
within which was the widowed queen of Edward 
the Confessor, the inexplicably hostile sister of 
Harold, submitted without a blow. William should 
then have marched on to London. But " the men 
of London whose forefathers had beaten back 
Swegen and Cnut, whose brothers had died round 
the standard of Harold, were not men to surrender 
their mighty city, guarded by its broad river and its 
Roman walls, without at least meeting the invader 
in the field." William continued his march from 
Winchester along the old Roman road, directly on the 
great city. " He marched on, ravaging, burning, 
and slaughtering as he went, and drew near to the 
southern bank of the river," and sent on "before him 
a body of five hundred knights, whether simply to 
reconnoitre or in the hope of gaining something by a 
sudden attack. The citizens sallied ; a skirmish 
followed ; the English were beaten back within the 
walls ; and the southern suburb of the city, South- 
wark, was given to the flames." But William did 
not even then venture any direct attack upon the 

" He kept on the right bank of the Thames, harrying as he 
went, through Surrey, Hampshire, and Berkshire, till at 
Wallingford a ford and a bridge supplied safe and easy 


means of crossing for his army. But he still did not march 
straight upon London. His course was to march on, keep- 
ing at some distance from the city, till the lands north and 
east of London should be as thoroughly wasted and subdued 
as the lands south of the Thames. He followed out this plan 
till he reached Berkhampstead, in Hertfordshire." 

From Berkhampstead William negotiated with 
London. Ansgar is spoken of as being the soul of 
all the counsels taken by the defenders of London, 
and a tale is told of messages between Ansgar and 
William. One remarkable message reaches London 
that William should have the name of king [solum 
rex vocitetur], and all things in the kingdom should 
be ruled by Ansgar. 1 At last Ansgar's messenger 
is won over, and he 

" goes back to London to enlarge on the might, the wisdom, 
the just rights, and the curious excellences of William. The 
invader is one whom it is on every ground hopeless to resist. 
His intentions are friendly ; he offers peace to the city ; 
wisdom dictates one course only, that of immediate sub- 
mission to such a candidate for the kingdom. The people 
applaud ; the senate approves ; both orders — their distinct 
action is clearly marked — vote at once to forsake the cause 
of the young ^Etheling, and to make their submission to the 
conquering duke." 2 

Both orders — that is the primates and optimates, 
and the commonalty, the two orders which we have 
seen in definite existence in London during Anglo- 
Saxon times. The whole story is most instructive, 
and this is because it does not belong to military 

1 This is quoted by Freeman from Guy of Amiens, 689. 
' Freeman, Hist. Norm. Conq. iii. 542-547. 


history. William did not thus approach London 
because it was a fortified city, but because it was 
an institution of the country of which he intended 
to be master, and an institution with which at the 
beginning it was well for him to be in alliance. He 
would have fought against the city defences in quite 
other fashion. He was, in fact, fighting against the 
city organisation, which he knew quite well to be one 
of the strongest political forces in the country. 

Once more, then, London changed its overlord with- 
out being conquered. It accepted William because 
he was virtual king of the land, and as king of the land 
it agreed to his overlordship. As in Saxon times, so 
during the first dealings with the Norman, London 
accepted the generally accepted king and was not 
conquered. She followed her Saxon traditions. 
Within her walls was Eadgar elected king ; just as his 
grandfather, Eadmund Ironside, had been elected. 
From without her walls came another sovereign, 
William the Norman ; just as formerly had come 
another sovereign, Cnut the Dane. Faithful to 
Eadmund until his murder, London was faithful to 
Eadgar until it found he would not be true king ; 
and then it accepted the king accepted by the country 
at large. The position is a remarkable one for a 
city to occupy. It tells us at once that it was not 
a position familiar to modern history ; and there 
are other facts which illustrate the position which 
London assumed to herself at this important 
juncture. That the actual results upon London were 
different from those she expected is most certain, 
but before dealing with these results let me try to 


illustrate the position from the events of the period. 
This can be done by comparing the action of London 
with the action of another famous city — Exeter. 
Thither had fled Harold's mother and Harold's sons, 
and two years after the great battle at Hastings 
Exeter is recorded by the chroniclers as having had 
no dealings whatever with the new king, 1 and all ranks 
of the city agreed to withstand the conqueror. This 
of itself is a great step, but there is even more than 
this. The city of Exeter endeavoured to rouse the 
men of the neighbouring shires, and called on their 
towns to enter into a league against the foreign 
conqueror. In this proceeding we are nearer than 
almost anything else in the history of this period, 
to direct evidence of the quasi-independent position 
of the cities under the Saxon rule, and in the record 
of the subsequent events the facts stand out clearly. 
William first of all sent to Exeter to demand that 
the citizens should take the oath of allegiance to 
him as their lawful king. The answer to this 
summons is a most memorable one. It ran thus, 
"We will take no oaths to the king; we will not 
receive him within our walls ; but we are ready to 
pay him the tribute which we have been used to 
pay to former kings." 2 

Comparing this answer with William's message to 
London, we have a state of things which show both 
Exeter and London acting with political independence 
according to old custom ; agreeing to acknowledge an 
imperial sovereignty in the monarch who had conquered 

1 Ordericus Vitalis 510A, quoted by Freeman, Hist. Norm. Cong. iv. 138. 

2 Freeman, Hist. Norm. Cong. iv. 146. 



the rest of the land, but refusing to acknowledge an 
immediate sovereignty to him or to any king. And 
all this was not a new claim but founded upon ancient 
usage. The two cities, in fact, claimed their ancient 
position — a position not subordinate to the state, not 
municipal as a part of the state machinery, but civic as 
a relic of that older system dating from times when 
the cities of Britain were not parts of the political state. 1 

Of course Exeter failed to make good her case 
before the great Norman, but the fortunate record 
of her attempt satisfactorily explains what was 
the true position assumed by London at this time. 
London sought to gain her ends — the same ends 
as those of Exeter — by submission, but she was 
undoubtedly not prepared for the results of accepting 
William the Norman as king. If the acceptance was 
peaceable and by treaty, if it did not actually contain the 
words or the conception of conquerors and conquered, 
London soon learned that her position as unconquered 
city of Britain was for the first time going to be 
changed. William's action was precise. The sub- 
mission of London made his title to the kingship 
secure, and he determined to be crowned at the mid- 
winter festival and at the old place of the crowning of 
English kings — Westminster, that is, and not London. 

I shall return to the ceremony of crowning later on. 
His next step was to secure a military hold upon 
London, and I would note the significance of this 
act. For the first time London was to be in the 

1 It is worth while turning to Mr Freeman's account of Exeter in 
English Towns atid Districts, 49-75, for a general summary of the 
position of this town. 


position of a conquered city. William sent forward a 
portion of his army with orders to prepare a fortress 
in or near the city. Of course this fortress, hastily 
planned and hastily constructed, was not then of a 
permanent nature. It was indeed probably built of 
wood ; but it no doubt occupied the site of the later 
fortress which we now know as the Tower of London. 
The Tower of London is indeed the sign of the 
conqueror's might. He had encamped at Barking, 
and it was here no doubt that he drew up his plans 
for the military domination of London. He could 
there more easily comprehend that the eastern end 
of the city was the place from which to protect or 
overawe the city, for if necessary its trade and supplies 
from the water could be cut off. Displacing a section 
of the Roman wall, including two towers next to the 
Thames, says Mr Clark, he commenced his work by 
constructing at first a deep ditch and strong palisade. 1 
This remained for some time the sole military work, 
but about twelve or fourteen years later, that is about 
1080, there was begun the magnificent keep which 
has remained the central part of the whole group, 
and has caused the whole to pass under the name 
of "the Tower." For as originally constructed it 
was not a castle in the military sense. This word 
is derived from the Latin castellum or castrurn, and 
meant the entire fortified camp or enclosure. The 
whole of London surrounded by its Roman walls 
was in a sense a castrurn or castellum, except that 
it was much greater than a castrurn — it was a city. 
But in no sense was the tower built on its eastern 

1 Clark, Mediceval Military Architecture, i. 205. 


end, to the greatest extent outside the walled circuit, 
a part of the castrum of London. It was the massive 
built keep, rectangular in form and standing in no 
direct relationship to the castellum or castrum. 
Distinctly a Norman invention, the keep has had 
a curious history. Sometimes the keep was added 
to the castellum and sometimes the castellum was 
added to the keep, 1 and it is when we get the addition 
of these two elements that the modern castle, as we 
generally understand the term, is complete. Generally 
throughout England the keep was added to the 
castellum. The Normans adopted the ancient earth- 
work, British, Roman, or Saxon, which was already 
in a good defensive position, and on the mounds 
erected their great keeps. 

This being the general style of castle-building in 
Britain the case of the Tower of London is at once 
seen to be quite different. There is no mound. 
There is no pre-existing fortress altered to the new 
ideas. There is simply a destruction of the Roman 
wall of the city at its eastern junction with the 
Thames, the enclosure of the required area with a 
ditch and palisade, and the erection thereon of the 
Norman keep. This is the White or so-called Caesar's 
Tower of the great fortress. For some years it stood 
alone as the sign of the conqueror's hold upon 
London ; and it was during this period that it received 
its name of Tower, which has never since left it. Let 
me show how gradually it assumed the more ordinary 
aspect of a castle, and we shall understand why its 
characteristic of a tower should have been the more 

1 Round, Feudal England, 333. 


lasting. It was not until William Rufus reigned 
that a wall was built round the Tower enclosing 
what is now known as the inner ward. Stephen 
or Henry II. added the Wakefield Tower. The 
Bell Tower was built by Richard I., or John, as 
was the Devereux Tower. The Jewel Tower was 
probably the work of Henry III. The Bloody Tower 
is the gatehouse of the inner ward, and was added 
by Edward III. or Richard II. The Beauchamp 
Tower was the work of Edward III., so was Bowyer 
Tower and probably Broad Arrow Tower and Salt 
Tower. These are all the towers of the inner ward. 

If we take a few notes as to events accompanying 
the building of the Tower we shall gain points of great 
constitutional significance. Thus in the year 1239 
the Tower of London was strengthened, which the 
London citizens feared would tend to their injury ; 
but on their making complaint on the matter to the 
king he replied that it was not done to their disgrace 
or danger. Two years later a very remarkable story 
is related which tells us more of the inner feelings 
of Londoners towards the Tower than could be 
expected. In 1241 a vision appeared to a certain 
priest, wherein an archprelate dressed in pontifical 
robes and carrying a cross in his hands came to the 
walls which the king had at that time built near the 
Tower of London, and after regarding them with 
a scowling look, struck them strongly and violently 
with the cross, saying : " Why do ye rebuild them ? " 
whereupon the newly erected walls suddenly fell to 
the ground as if thrown down by an earthquake. 
The priest, frightened at the sight, said to a clerk who 


appeared following the archprelate: " Who is this 
archbishop?" to which the clerk replied: "It is St 
Thomas the Martyr, a Londoner by birth, \natione 
Londoniensis] who considered that these walls were 
built as an insult and to the prejudice of the 
Londoners, and has therefore imparably destroyed 
them." The priest after having seen these things 
awoke from his sleep, rose from his bed, and in 
the dead silence of the night told his dream to 
all who were in the house. Early in the morning 
a report spread through the city of London that 
the walls built round the Tower on the con- 
struction of which the king had expended more than 
twelve thousand marks had fallen to pieces together 
with their bastions. The citizens of London were 
not sorry for it, for these walls were to them as a 
thorn in their eyes, and they had heard the taunts 
of the people who said that these walls had been 
built as an insult to them, and that if any one of them 
should dare to contend for the liberty of the city, he 
would be shut up in them and consigned to imprison- 
ment, and in order that if several were imprisoned 
they might be confined in several different prisons 
a great number of cells were constructed in them 
apart from one another. And then in 1261 the 
king shut himself up in the Tower of London, and 
hired a number of workmen to repair and fortify the 
said Tower in the parts most favourable for defence, 
and, moreover, ordered the gates round the city of 
London to be strengthened by locks and bars. 1 

These building traditions and records would be 

1 Mathew Paris, Chronica Majora (Rolls Series), iv. 93-94- 


valuable if they stood by themselves. They show 
that the citizens of thirteenth-century London looked 
upon the Tower as their enemy, not their protector, 
and we may surmise that this was as much from the 
constitutional side as from the personal. This surmise 
is strangely confirmed when we turn to constitutional 
documents for evidence of the position of the Tower 
in constitutional usage. 

The Tower of London was not only a military 
fortress, it was, so far as Norman London is con- 
cerned, a place of constitutional importance, and 
thus affords an exceptionally instructive element in 
the history of London as an institution. The facts 
are all set down in the ancient rules of the city 
governing the conduct of the citizens in their relation- 
ship to the Tower as a seat of the king's justice. 
Upon the day on which the pleas of the Crown 
were held, the citizens met at Barking Church and 
proceeded to the Tower in solemn array, and by 

" sanction of the common council of the city there should be 
sent from Berkynecherche six or more of the more serious 
honourable and discreet barons of the city who are to enter 
the Tower for the purpose of saluting and welcoming his lord- 
ship the king his council, and his justiciars, on behalf of the 
city ; begging of them that if it so please his lordship the king, 
they may safely appear before them in the said Tower, saving 
all their liberties and customs unto the Mayor and all other 
citizens." x 

Another rule is still more indicative of the attitude 

of the citizen towards the Tower. 

" By common assent of the city injunctions should be given 
to the two Aldermen whose wards are nearest to the Tower 

1 Liber Albus, and Riley's translation, 47. 


of London to the effect that upon the third day before the 
pleas of the crown are holden they must enter the Tower for 
the purpose of examining the benches in the great hall to 
see if they are sound ; and if they should happen to be 
broken they must cause the same, at the costs and charges 
of the city, to be well and strongly repaired. In like manner 
also they must have a strong bench made in the middle of 
the hall with seats for three, the same to stand in the middle 
of the hall opposite the great seat of his lordship the king ; 
and upon this the Mayor and Barons of the city are to be 
seated when making answer unto his lordship the king and 
his justiciars as to matters which pertain unto the crown." 

And a little later, under Henry III., it is recorded 

" it should be known that it was conceded unto the barons 
of London that so soon as they should begin to plead they 
should have their own porter without the gate of the Tower 
of London ; and the porter of his lordship the king was to be 
within such gate ; and in like manner they were to have their 
own usher without the door of the hall, where they were to 
plead for the purpose of introducing the barons and others 
of the city who should have to plead, and of whom he should 
have knowledge ; and also they were to have their own 
Serjeants with their wands, and no serjeant on part of his 
lordship the king was in any way to interfere before the 
justiciars, in so far as the office of serjeant was concerned." ' 

In these regulations we cannot but recognise the 
citizens of London trying to regain, under Norman 
rule, some degree of independence of control which 
the Tower and its rights symbolised. The very 
minuteness of the concessions testify to their 
importance. The Tower was wholly the king's. It 

1 Liber Aldus, and Riley's translation, 53, 67. 


was not in the city of London geographically, nor 

within its jurisdiction. London was not a unity of 

castle and town, the castle's lord and the lord's citizens, 

as in other places where the Norman castle had been 

erected. From the first it was divided off from the 

castle. The Tower of London was the king's, was 

in the king's territory, was outside the city territory. 

The city of London was the citizens' city, was within 

citizen walls, was adjoining to but not otherwise 

connected with the Tower. When the citizens had, 

therefore, for legal purposes, to attend at the Tower, 

they to some extent controlled and safeguarded the 

proceedings. Of a truth the old spirit of the 

Londoners lived on under the new order of things ; 

but it had to be directed, not to the preservation 

of old rights and privileges, but to the destruction of 

newly exercised powers by the imperial sovereign. 

Accustomed to their own governance, they fought 

hard against governance from without, and the record 

of this fight is in keeping with earlier conditions. 


We come upon the charters of London suddenly. 
They do not crop up in Saxon times, gradually 
developing into form. There are no Saxon charters 
to towns, 1 and it was only after William had placed 
his iron hold upon London, that the first charter to 
the city appears. It is addressed to the same chiefs 
of the city as other documents prove to have been 
the chiefs in Saxon times ; it refers back to the 
freedom of King Edward's days. But it was issued 
by King William the Conqueror in the hour of his 
victory. There are three pregnant facts by which it 
must be judged : 

1 The so-called charters to towns by Anglo-Saxon kings are most 
instructive documents. JEthelbald of Mercia in 743-745 grants to Bishop 
Milred "all the dues of the two ships which shall be there demanded 
by the collectors in the hithe of London town." (Thorpe, Diplomatarium 
Anglicum, 29.) This is apparently an interception by the king of dues 
collected at London. j£thelstan's charter to Malmesbury is not genuine, 
though I attach considerable importance to the reference in it to the 
rhyming formula which is part of the ceremony of allotting the common 
lands. See Mr T. Martin's preface to Registrum Malmesburiense, vol. iii. 
p. xliii., and my note of it in Village Community, 191. There is a rhyming 
charter to Beverley (Kemble, Cod. Dip. i. Nos. ccclix. and ccclx.) which is 
spurious, and Mr Earle gives other specimens in his Land Charters and 
Other Saxonic Documents, 435-440. I, however, agree with Mr Green that 
though the present forms are not authentic charter grants, they do 
represent the memory of such grants. {Conquest of England, 222.) 


(1) Its address to the bishop, portreeve, and 


(2) Its reference back to Anglo-Saxon times. 

(3) Its issue by King William. 

The words of this precious document are known well 
enough, but they bear repeating as many times as 
they are referred to for historical purposes. 

"William, king, greets William, bishop, and Gosfrith 
portreeve, and all the burghers within London, French and 
English, friendly ; and I do you to wit that I will that ye 
be all law worthy that were in King Edward's day. And 
I will that every child be his father's heir after his father's 
day. And I will not endure that any man offer any wrong 
to you. God keep you." 

First must be noted that the charter is addressed 
to " William the bishop, and Gosfrith the portreeve " 
— the same governing authorities, therefore, bishop 
and reeve, who in the reign of ^Ethelstan passed 
laws for themselves. William's charter and the 
London code of ^Ehelstan's reign may well be 
compared. The one is a code of laws passed by 
the citizens for their own good and governance, the 
other is addressed by the king, the sovereign ego 
to the representatives of the city. The subordination 
of the bishop and the portreeve is conveyed in this 
document. The governing authorities of the city 
had to admit a higher governing authority still, and 
this is an entirely new constitutional factor in the 
history of London, from the time she had been 
released from the dominion of the Roman empire. 

The whole significance of the charter is contained 


in one single clause : " I will that ye be all law worthy 
that were in King Edward's day." What does this 
mean ? Whatever it means, it is by the new king's 
will, not by the ancient rights of the city, that the 
burghers of London are held to be law worthy — a 
will which had not been so expressed in London 
before this charter, a will which was not mere formality 
because it can never be lost sight of again. Not 
only was the domination of the city being kept to 
the fore by the construction of the famous keep of 
the future Tower, but by the constitution of the 
sovereign authority as part of the city governance. 

Well, then, by the will of the king, the burghers 
of the king were to be " law- worthy." It is worth 
while to refer to what this expression meant in that 
age. Men in those days were spoken of as " moot- 
worthy," "fyrd- worthy," and " fold-worthy." ■ These 
expressions have not the limited meaning of our term 
''worthy," but imply the possession of some right or 
the doing of some duty. What Londoners received 
at the will of the conqueror, therefore, was the grant 
of law ; and when we ask ourselves what this law was 
that was granted to them, the only possible answer 
is, their own — the law by which they were then being 
governed. There is then much significance in the 
fact of there being a charter at all. The citizens did 
not need it in order to govern themselves, for 
they had governed themselves for centuries without 
any such formality. Why then was it issued ? The 
king needed it in order to emphasize the fact of 
sovereignty — the dictum that what the sovereign 

1 Earle, Land Charters, 343 ; Kemble, Cod. Dip. iv. No. dcccliii. 


permits he commands ; in order to show that every 
right privilege and custom were nominally, at all events, 
derived from the sovereign. This, then, is the 
general significance of the first charter of the City of 
London. It is not a sign of the city's greatness and 
power; it is a sign of its being brought within the 
jurisdiction of the sovereign, of its being made an 
integral portion of the state, of an entirely new phase 
in its history. Historians have accustomed us to 
look upon the first charter of the city of London as 
the earliest sign of the city's importance. It has 
been magnified into a sort of municipal Magna Carta ; 
it has been glorified as the tangible proof of even 
William the Conqueror's respect for the great city. 
It is simply the first sign of its being welded into 
a state system of government, to which hitherto it 
had not conformed. The city's importance in the 
future, after the grant of the charter, was to be of 
a character different from what it had been in the 
past. It was not to be so independent as hitherto ; 
but it was to become the capital city of a newly 
formed state of England, and finally, of course, of 
the great British empire. I do not of course say 
that the new position is not a greater one than the 
old position ; better to be the capital city of mediaeval 
England, of the later-formed United Kingdom, of the 
modern empire, than the quasi - independent city of 
a half-formed state. But this destiny was not unfolded 
when William issued the new-fangled thing known 
as his charter. London was then for the first time 
since its Roman days definitely subject to an 
external sovereign power, keeping its own laws 


and system of government by express command of 
the sovereign. 

The charter itself is so general in its terms, so 
sweeping and comprehensive, that it does not seem 
to disturb the old theory of city government, whereby 
the ancient law of the Londoners, known only to the 
Londoners, and observed only by the Londoners, was 
to have full play. But indeed this is not so. The 
simple charter of King William did not settle the 
constitution of London. It was to be followed by 
other charters, and we can easily detect in the 
gradual extension of grants a corresponding encroach- 
ment upon city law and the true significance of what 
the charter meant. 

The next charter was that of Henry I. It 
contains fifteen clauses, and is a wholly different 
document from that of William. The question is, 
what does this difference mean ? Are the grants of 
Henry's charters absolutely new privileges, not 
formerly belonging to the citizens, or are they 
simply legalising and bringing under the direct 
sovereignty of the Norman king privileges and 
rights which were held by the Londoners from 
ancient times? In one case it is certain that ancient 
rights were being legalised : — 

" Also that the citizens of London shall have their grounds 
for hunting as well and as fully as their ancestors had : 
namely in Chiltre [the Chiltern district of Oxfordshire and 
Buckinghamshire], Middlesex, and Surrey." 1 

This is no new grant. The remaining clauses are 
rather protections than privileges — saving rights to 

1 § 13. See Round, Geoffrey of MancLville, 369. 


the citizens against the Norman system of govern- 
ment — the citizens shall not plead without the walls, 
shall be quit of scot and lot, and Danegeld, and 
murder, that is payments for these purposes, shall 
purge themselves by the oaths of their fellow- 
citizens, shall have their lands and securities and 
debts within and without the city, shall have their 
sokes and all their customs, and shall not have any 
one forced upon them against their will. All these 
are protections against encroachments which had 
been taking place under William the Conqueror and 
William Rufus. But clause 5 and clause 11 seem 

" All men of London shall be quit and free, and all their 
goods throughout all England, and the sea-ports of the 
passage, lastage, and all other customs." 

This might be considered as clearly a privilege, 
which only a sovereign who held, not only the 
city thus privileged, but also the other cities who 
had to allow the privilege, under his sovereignty. 
And yet when we come to consider how this privilege 
was to be enforced, we have doubt whether Henry I. 
was not merely granting formally what the citizens 
already possessed actually. The sanction to these 
privileges from other towns was : 

" that if any person shall take toll or custom from the men of 
London, the citizens of London in the city shall take from the 
borough or vill, where such toll or custom shall have been 
taken, as much as such men of London shall have given 
for toll, and have received in damage therefrom." 

This is not the legal force of sovereignty to back up 


the grant of the sovereign. It is simply that London 
and other towns may tax each other, and each others' 
goods to the extent they deem wise or necessary for 
their purposes — in other words, London and the chief 
towns were acting on their own account in matters of 
tariff, were forming agreements amongst themselves, 
an almost incredible state of things as state law of 
the English type, but known to us, as we have 
already seen, as the ordinary city law of the Roman 
period. There is enough, therefore, to suggest that 
the charters were in this respect only gradually 
bringing into Norman sovereign law, London 
customs and practices, which had hitherto known no 
sovereign law. 

Comparing this charter with William's famous first 
charter, we shall learn some instructive facts. The 
first charter of William granted to all Londoners their 
existing laws — with one stroke of the pen transferred 
these laws from their immemorial resting-place among 
the traditional rights and system of government 
belonging to London to their new source of life, the 
will of the king — transferred them, that is to say, from 
their home in the city to their new home in the state. 
William's en bloc sort of grant was too obviously the 
result of political conditions which called forth other 
forces than that of constitutional law, the forces which 
had to meet the fitful outbreaks of the distressed 
Saxons, as in turn each part of the country felt the 
conqueror's grasp tightening upon its very vitals, the 
forces which had to fight the last of the Saxon 
heroes, Hereward, in his gallant stand in the 
Cambridgeshire fens. The generality of the terms 


of William's charter implied that all the laws of the 
Londoners were derived from the king, but the very- 
extent of this sweeping terminology lessened the 
potency of the royal sanction. Working through the 
reign of the Conqueror and of William Rufus, the 
force of the sovereign grant had almost spent itself. 
Normans were becoming Londoners, and thought 
more of the actual rights of Londoners than of the 
asserted sovereign grant. Accordingly we find the 
next statesmanlike king, Henry I., beginning a new 
stage in the history of charter grants. No longer a 
sweeping grant of everything, but a specific grant 
of certain things. And each successive charter from 
this is an extension of specific grants. It is clear 
that the specific grants by Henry I. were not enrolled 
in his first charter because the Londoners were losing 
their rights. I cannot myself detect any evidence 
that there was a fear of them losing their rights. 
What I think was happening was that the crown 
authority was discovering the value of these rights, 
and only gradually discovering their value ; and it 
would not do to allow rights of value to rest on any- 
other basis than that of the sovereign will. When 
Henry I. perceived that Londoners were exercising 
their ancient rights of hunting in the surrounding 
territory, he saw it was a valuable right, and made 
it a grant from sovereign authority to the citizens : 
when he perceived that Londoners claimed the right 
of being free of toll, and enforced the right by counter 
tollage upon other cities, he saw it was a valuable 
right, and so made it a grant from sovereign authority 
to the citizens. This process was a very potent 



political force. It brought into the realm of Norman 
legislation rights and powers which were hitherto 
unknown to the Norman law, and thus Norman 
legislative law working through the charters gradually- 
absorbed the whole of the municipal rights and 
privileges of the English towns and cities. 

This explanation shows how important it is to 
consider the gradual extension of the charter grants. 
It means the gradual overtaking of the municipal 
law by the state law. I cannot explain every step 
in this process through all the reigns of the Norman 
sovereigns, but I will illustrate my contention by such 
examples as will serve to show how real the process 
was to Londoners of the Norman period. 

Henry II.'s charter contains practically the same 
clauses as that of Henry I., but there was a tightening 
of the reins. Henry I. had said that "the citizens of 
London shall not plead without the walls of the city 
in any plea." Henry II. introduced the significant 
exception "as to tenures held without the city," 
whereby the citizens were brought more under the 
general law of the land, and their own particular law 
was curtailed. Here is a forcible example of the 
constitutional results of charter grants. Once a right 
was made the subject of a grant, it was brought 
within the ken, the scrutinising ken, of the governing 
authorities, and on occasion it could be altered. 
Again, Henry I. had granted that the citizens could 
choose their own sheriff. Henry II. made no such 
grant, and indeed kept the appointment of sheriff in 
his own hands, and the 

" fact that the sheriffs of London and Middlesex were under 


Henry II. and Richard I. appointed throughout by the crown, 
must compel our historians to reconsider the independent 
position they have assigned to the city at that early period." 1 

Ansgar, who fought at Hastings, was not appointed 
by the crown, and that his successors in title should 
have been so appointed is expressive testimony to 
the changed state of things. 

Richard's charter contains no clause dealing with 
new matters. John's first charter contains nothing' 
new, but the second restores the appointment of sheriff 
into the hands of the citizens, while his fifth charter 
is the famous grant of a mayor, entered as follows 
in the city records : — 

"That the barons of the city of London shall choose for 
themselves each year a mayor from among themselves, who 
shall be a trusty man, discreet and proper, provided always 
that when so elected he shall be presented unto his lordship 
the king, or in the king's absence unto his justiciar." 2 

" Know ye," are the words of this famous charter, 

" that we have granted, and by this our present writing con- 
firmed to our barons of our city of London, that they may 
choose to themselves every year a mayor, who to us may be 
faithful, discreet, and fit for government of the city, so as, 
when he shall be chosen, to be presented to us, or our justiciar 
(if we shall not be present) ; and he shall swear to be faithful 
to us ; and that it shall be lawful to them at the end of the 
year to amove him and substitute another if they will, or the 
same to retain, so as he be presented to us, or our justice, if we 
shall not be present." 

Now about this grant of an elected municipal 

1 Round, Geoffrey de Mandeville, 372. 

2 Liber Aldus, i. 134, and Riley's translation, 119. 


officer, the mayor, there has been much controversy, 
and there is much interest — especially from the point 
of view which I have been considering throughout 
these pages. 

The first point of importance is that the charter 
of King John, which is the first known grant of the 
mayoralty, is not the first charter which mentions 
the mayor. The fourth charter of this king, dated 
20th March 1202, or thirteen years before the fifth 
charter which granted the mayoralty, alludes to the 
mayor. " Know ye," says the charter, "that we, 
at the request of our mayor and citizens of London, 
have granted," etc. The grant was a very insignificant 
matter, merely that the guild of weavers should not 
be in the city of London. But this casual mention 
of the mayor and citizens shows that before the grant 
of the mayoralty formally by the fifth charter, it 
existed de facto. Further, Henry Fitzalwyne is 
spoken of as mayor of London so early as 11 89, as 
the very first entry in the Chronicles of the Mayors and 
Sheriffs of London informs us. 1 Here again we are 
face to face with the ordinary process of charter law, 
the process by which the sovereign law gradually 
absorbed and overtook municipal law, proceeded to 
grant what already existed, but which had become 
of importance, and was affecting the polity of the age. 

This question of the mayoralty in the history 
of London has not escaped notice by our chief 
historians, but it has been curiously treated. It has 
been thought that there were earlier charters grant- 

1 Liber De Antiq. Leg. 1. Mr Round says the earliest date for the 
mention of the Mayor is 1193, Commune of London, 225. 


ing the mayoralty, which charters and all reference 
to them have been lost. Let me, however, refer 
to a few contemporary accounts of proceeding's in 
London at this juncture, and I think many of the 
difficulties will vanish. 

Walter of Coventry, Roger of Hoveden, and 
Benedict of Peterborough, three contemporary 
chroniclers, describe the events of 11 89-1 191 as 
follows : 

" The Count of Mortagne [i.e. Prince John, who was acting 
for himself during the absence of his brother Richard Cceur 
de Lion in the Holy Land] and the Archbishop of Rouen 
and the king's other justiciaries granted to the citizens of 
London [concesserunt civibus Londoniarum~\ to have their 
commune {habere communam suam] and the Count of 
Mortagne and the Archbishop of Rouen, and almost all 
the bishops and earls and barons of the realm swore that 
they would most firmly maintain it [communam illani\ so 
long as it should please the king." 

Ralph de Diceto, another contemporary chronicler, 
says " all the before mentioned magnates swore 
that they would maintain the commune of London." 
Giraldus Cambrensis, another contemporary, says that 
"all the citizens having assembled as a body, the 
commune was granted to them, and was sworn to by 
all " ; and finally Richard of Devizes, another con- 
temporary, says : 

"On that very day [8th October 1191] was granted and 
instituted [concessa est et instituta\ the commune of the 
Londoners [communia Londoniensium\ and the magnates of 
the whole realm and even the bishops of the province itself 
are compelled to swear to it. London learnt now for the 


first time in obtaining the commune that the realm had no 
king, for neither Richard nor his father and predecessor 
Henry would ever have allowed this to be done even for a 
thousand thousand marks of silver. How great are the evils 
which spring from a commune may be understood from the 
common saying — it puffs up the community with arrogance 
and frightens the kings." 

All these statements must be read carefully to 
understand their full import. The commune here 
spoken of was undoubtedly the right of common 
government by themselves — the right of legal 
recognition as a community by the laws of the land. 
If London was to be broken into by the independent 
sokes granted to Norman lords, and presently we 
shall see how this is, common government and 
common action were almost impossible. It was the 
restoration of common government which the citizens 
claimed at the hands of the traitor prince, John, Count 
of Mortagne, and this was what they received. It 
was no new thing to the Londoners, but their old 
system before Norman sovereigns had undermined 
it. It was what neither Richard, the absent king, 
nor Henry, the late king, would have granted for a 
million crowns, and it was a saying among the citizens 
of this day that " come what may, the Londoners 
should have no king but their mayor." 1 They now 
had their aspirations confirmed, for the first mayor, 
Henry Fitzalwyne, elected as we have seen in 1189, 
two years before the concession by John, continued 
mayor until his death, at which time the citizens had 
obtained by charter the grant of annual election of 
their mayor. 

1 Stubbs, Const. Hist. i. 630. 


It is important to note that all these transactions 
did not produce a charter. Whatever John, Count 
of Mortagne, conceded to the Londoners in 1191 was 
not put into charter form, and I do not agree with 
those authorities, as, for instance, the late distinguished 
scholar, Henry Charles Coote, who claim that the 
charter was granted and is lost. Viewed in the light 
of the researches we have been able to make regarding 
London, a charter was not necessary, nay, was not 
desired. In all these transactions it is to be noted 
that the citizens of London were active in demanding 
their right of commune. They assembled in a body 
to demand it. Their popular saying, probably as old 
as the date of William's first charter, kept alive their 
ancient position of quasi-sovereignty with the king 
of the land, and the significance of this cannot be 
overstated. It was, therefore, the citizens' demand 
that was the keynote to the position, and if my 
reading of the meaning of the charters is correct, they 
would not seek for this demand to be put into the 
category of chartered rights, they would rather seek 
to keep it in the same class as their other ancient 
rights — rights which were never chartered, but 
depended upon traditional custom and usage, upon 
city or municipal law, in fact, and not upon sovereign 
or state law. 

Noting this important break in the process of 
charter granting we will now turn to the charters 
granted by John, Henry III., and Edward I. They 
all seem to have been confined to grants of old rights, 
leaving the citizens with a large amount of local law 
and custom by which to conduct their own affairs, 


but they were leading slowly and surely to other 
ideas. The reign of Edward the First was one of 
the greatest importance to England. Edward was the 
greatest of the Plantagenct kings. He was, among 
other things, a great law-giver, and men in his reign 
turned to the reform — the necessary reform — of the 
laws in a fashion that had never been attempted 
before. It is not my intention to touch upon these 
matters, even if I had the time and the knowledge. 
All I am anxious to say is, that the national law was 
being studied, reformed, and codified to some extent, 
and that schools of law, turning to the Roman codes 
and treatises for inspiration, had sprung up and were 
influencing the governing authorities of the nation. 
State government was in future to be more thorough 
than ever before. Anomalies that existed hitherto 
were not to exist any longer. Ancient rights were 
not to interfere with state government. 

That the first effect upon the city of London of 
these changes in the theory and study of government 
functions should have operated by way of charter is to 
my mind most important. It does more than anything 
else to confirm my view of the position of the charters 
as instruments of the sovereign power and authority 
rather than as concessions to the citizens. The cities 
and boroughs could have gone on without them, but 
the sovereign authority would not have it so. 
Government in the cities and boroughs went on 
unnoticed by the sovereign authority so long as it 
did not prominently assert itself either by way of 
disaster to the city, or by way of conflict with the 
crown. Little by little the charters were encroaching 


upon and absorbing municipal laws, making them 
into sovereign charter law. But we have hitherto 
had no interference with the city system of govern- 
ment. Whatever it was, and it must have been 
important and minute, it was unknown to the state 
law. But after the great development of state 
government under Edward I. a new era set in. 
In London it is evidenced in the very first charter 
of King Edward II. This important document 
says : 

" Know ye that whereas our beloved and faithful the mayor 
and aldermen and the other citizens of our city of London 
had lately ordained and appointed among themselves for the 
bettering of the same city, and for the common benefit of such 
as dwell in that city, and resort to the same, certain things to 
be in the same city perpetually observed, and had instantly 
besought us that we would take care to accept and confirm 
the same, we having seen certain letters, patentwise, signed 
with the common seal of that city and the seal of the office 
of the mayoralty of that city, upon the premises, and to us 
exhibited have caused certain articles to be chosen out of 
the foresaid letters and caused them in some things to be 
corrected as they are underneath inserted .... which 
articles as they are above expressed and the matters con- 
tained in the same we accept approve and ratify." 

This is a distinct and unquestioned departure in 
the style and substance of the charters. The claim 
of the king is to approve of the laws passed by the 
citizens. The charter says the citizens themselves 
desired this approval, but this is, I suspect, a con- 
stitutional formula rather than an actual fact. In 
any case these rules of the citizens were seized hold 
of by the charter, and thus became state law. But 
all the time the citizens were administering codes of 


municipal law, unsanctioned by the state, not seized 
hold of by charters, and that the charter of the 
king absorbed this particular code, is to my mind 
due to the new activity of the state in getting hold 
of all new municipal laws. 

I will shortly state the nature of the several clauses 
of this early constitution of London : 

(i) The mayor to be elected annually. 

(3) Sheriffs to appoint two clerks and two Serjeants. 

(4) Mayor to hold no other office belonging to the city. 

(5) Aldermen to be elected every year, those retiring not 

to be re-elected. 

(6) Tallages to be assessed by men of the wards, and 

delivered into the custody of four honest men, 
commoners of the city. 

(7) Strangers to be admitted into the freedom of the 

city in the husting. 

(8) Annual enquiry as to merchandise exercised in the 

city by freeman. 

(9) Scot and lot to be paid by freeman. 

(10) Non-resident freeman to pay scot and lot for their 


(11) Common seal to be in the custody of two aldermen 

and two commoners. 

(12) Weights and scales to be in the custody of honest 

and sufficient men of the city. 

(13) Appointment of sheriffs deputies. 

(14) Non-freemen not to sell by retail. 

(15) Brokers to be elected by merchants. 

(16) Non-freemen to be partakers of the contingent 

burdens of the city 

(17) Bridge to be kept by bridge-masters. 

(18) Common serjeant, common clerk, and chamberlain 

to be chosen by the commonalty. 

(19) Fees of the mayor, recorder, etc. 

(20) Aldermen to be taxed as other citizens. 


I pass on to the most effective of all charter 
grants, the most effective power exercised by the 
sovereign, namely, the great event of formal incor- 
poration. Let me first explain what incorporation 
means. A group of people agreeing to act together, 
and to share burdens together can do this in either 
of two ways. It can elect a representative who is 
trustee for the group, who therefore is the legal 
person responsible for the acts of the group, owner 
of the property of the group, answerable for the 
penalties imposed upon the group ; or it can itself, 
as a group, become a legal person — -persona Jicta. 

The method by which a group of persons agreeing 
to act together and share burdens together can do these 
things, so as to be square with the laws of the state 
which do not recognise groups but only individuals, is 
to consider themselves as one, to band their common 
interests and common burdens so closely as to 
become one person in the eye of the law. This 
group of persons which becomes one person is a 
corporate body. It acts by agreement, generally by 
the voice of the majority, and whatever it decides 
to do, or not to do, becomes a single definite action. 
It is not under the direction of one head; it acts for 
itself, and presents to the outside world but one 

Now it will be remembered that over and over 
again we have had to deal with groups of persons in 
this enquiry. It will be remembered how I have 
described that the Saxon organisation was based upon 
the tribal system — a system which made blood kinship 
the basis of society and of law ; which recognised not 


individual persons, but only heads of households ; a 
system by which all individuals who by age, by 
reason of dependence, by reason of being bondsmen to 
the house father, or being a female, wife or daughter, 
were unrecognised by the Saxon government, unknown 
to the Saxon law, and which reduced them simply to so 
many legal cyphers responsible to no one but the head 
of the family, responsible for no act or crime but to 
the head of the family. It will be remembered in 
particular how I pointed out that the Londoners of 
.^Ethelstan's time had to create new laws in order to 
proceed against the kin, that is a group of persons 
not resolvable into individuals each answerable to the 
law, but consisting of individuals each answerable 
to his kinship group. All this, and whatever of it 
survived in law and custom was inconsistent with the 
Norman conception of the state. The new state was 
to be a country governed by a sovereign to whom 
every individual was a subject answerable for all his 
acts. The new state was to be a political machine, 
not a tribal organisation ; and William emphasized 
this in the great assembly he held at Sarum in 
1086. Thither he summoned all his followers, or, 
as the Anglo-Saxon puts it, "all the landowning 
men of property there were over all England whoso- 
ever me7i they were" and made them swear oaths by 
fealty to him against all other men. 1 Let us note the 
significant words of the chronicle. The chronicler 
understood the old English system. Each individual 
was hitherto answerable to his tribal chief, not to the 
sovereign state. In future, by this new oath to King 

1 Jenks, Law and Politics in the Middle Ages, 93. 


William, each individual was to be answerable to the 
sovereign state. William, by this great act, enlarged 
the boundary of the state and took in all men. 
" Henceforward," says Mr Jenks, " when he summoned 
his array he would have a direct claim, not only on 
his tenants in chief, but on their under vassals " — the 
old tribal organisation of the Saxon had given way, 
and the era of the political state of England had com- 
menced. It took William twenty years of experience 
on English soil (1066 to 1086) to accomplish this. 
That he did accomplish so great a change marks, 
more than any other act, the greatness of the man's 
intellect and conception of things. 

The Norman conditions represent a state com- 
prised of all adult individuals living in the geo- 
graphical unit under Norman control — never mind 
whether the person lives in a city, or is comprised 
in a family, city organisation and family organisation 
are broken into in order to reach the individual person 
— a state, resting on no artificially formed pillars but 
on the solid earth, soon to grow into the affections 
of the inhabitant people as mother earth or fatherland, 
and comprised of no larger units than the persons 
of the individual citizens. 

It must be recognised what an enormous change 
was produced by this one act of William's. So 
long as groups of kin alone existed in the eye of 
the law and the individual did not exist, there was no 
difficulty in dealing with such groups as a unit. But 
when the kinship group was finally shattered and 
the individual was the only recognisable legal unit, 
difficulty was created when a number of persons again 


desired to act collectively. They might in one case, 
to their advantage, agree to act together ; they might 
in another case, to their disadvantage, rely upon their 
individuality and deny collective responsibility. 

There is no case, so far as I know, among the 
institutions of the country during Norman times where 
such a difficulty as this actually occurred. Municipal 
bodies acted collectively in accordance with their 
ancient laws and customs, but Norman sovereigns 
wished to control this collective action. 

They learnt that these corporate bodies possessed 
among other things vast possessions of land, such, 
for instance, as the Dean and Chapter of St Paul's 
owned in their manors round London as well as at 
greater distances in the country. Now the ownership 
of lands meant much to the state. There were 
military duties, and fiscal duties, and legal duties 
attachable to lands, and the question arose as to how 
all these things were to be arranged if the lord of 
the manor or the owner of the lands was not an 
individual, but a group of individuals who called 
themselves a Dean and Chapter of a cathedral, prior 
and wardens of a monastery, or what not. Who 
among this group of persons was responsible, if 
military duties, fiscal duties, or legal duties were not 
properly performed. Somebody must be. The Dean 
might deny responsibility, the members of the Chapter 
might deny it individually, and so responsibility 
might be first evaded and then finally repudiated. 
Besides this, lands held by these groups never 
descended to an heir. The holding was perpetual, 
and so various rights and dues upon the death of 


an owner were evaded. This state of things clearly 
could not go on; and so in 1279 a statute was 
passed by which no religious persons were to acquire 

This occurred in the reign of Edward I. But it 
is not until the reign of Richard II. that we are 
confronted with the legal problem presented by the 
holding of lands by the boroughs. Then the Govern- 
ment seem to have learnt for the first time that the 
boroughs were like the religious bodies, capable of 
holding lands ; for the famous statute of 1 5 Richard 
II. (1391) seems to me not only to have taken a 
singularly long time in finding its place upon the 
Statute Book, but its wording implies the idea of 
a recent discovery. This act begins by reciting the 
former prohibitions against religious houses holding 
lands in perpetuity, extends that prohibition to guilds 
and fraternities, and afterwards adds that 

" because mayors, bailiffs, and commons of cities, boroughs, 
and other towns which have a perpetual commonalty, 
and others which have offices perpetual, be as perpetual 
as people of religion, they shall not thenceforth purchase 
to them and to their commons and offices." 

Here the significance surely lies in the frank 
recognition of the corporate character of perpetual 
succession and in the prohibition " thenceforth," 
implying that up to that time boroughs possessed or 
had attained lands, but were not to do so in the 
future without legal sanction — in other words, unless 
they were incorporated. 

A great deal has been made of this question of 
incorporation, but I do not think it is altogether a 


matter of law. We want to know how the law arose, 
and under what circumstances it was first applied. 
Knowing the date when the English municipalities 
were first incorporated, what we have to ascertain is 
what were the circumstances which led to this change 
of constitution. Now whatever were the influences 
which produced municipal boroughs on English soil, 
those influences were not Norman, and the municipal 
system was not Norman ; and whatever were the 
influences which brought about legal incorporation, 
those influences were Norman, though the conception 
of incorporation came from the Roman law. Here, 
then, are two opposite influences at work, and here 
lies the key to the problem. The question is, how 
were these two opposite systems of polity — the English 
and the Roman — brought together? Fifteenth-century 
lawyers awake to the facts of Roman law ; fifteenth- 
century monarchs, anxious to extend their sovereignty, 
combined to bring the English boroughs within the 
four corners of this legal conception ; and they began 
the process, not by wholesale grants of incorporation 
to boroughs which were not incorporated, but by a 
disabling Act, to bring sharp home to them what 
incorporation might mean. Boroughs were made to 
understand that they could not acquire property unless 
they were incorporated. 

I think this course is most significant. A formal 
grant of incorporation would not be thought much of 
by boroughs which had existed without it for centuries. 
Their understanding, therefore, was sharpened by 
the Act of Richard II., and incorporation became to 
them a legal necessity. 


Still the process was slow. Legal incorporation was 
not granted as a privilege until 1439, when Kingston- 
upon-Hull and Plymouth were incorporated — the 
first by charter, the second by statute. Henry VI. 
also gave grants of incorporation to Ipswich, South- 
ampton, Coventry, Northampton, Woodstock, Canter- 
bury, Nottingham, and Tenterden. These grants, 
however, did not become general, for Norwich, Bristol, 
and the Cinque Ports received charters without incor- 
poration from Edward IV., who, on the other hand, 
conferred this privilege on Rochester, Stamford, 
Ludlow, Grantham, Wenlock, Bewdley, and Kingston. 
The question of incorporation became further compli- 
cated by the contention of the boroughs about this 
period that, though not expressly incorporated, this 
right was to be presumed from the circumstances of 
their creation, and must, therefore, have been conferred 
by some grant beyond legal memory ; and in the year 
1466 it was actually held by the Court of Common 
Pleas that words of incorporation might be implied 
in a grant "if the king gave land in fee-farm to the 
good men of the town, . . . and so likewise where 
it was given to the burgesses, citizens, and common- 
ality." 1 Thus, important as incorporation is from the 
legal point of view, we have the following condition 
of things to show that the law lagged behind the 
facts: (1) that in Richard II.'s reign English lawyers 
discovered that boroughs were practically corpora- 
tions, from which position they were dislodged by 
special Act of Parliament ; (2) that Edward IV. 
granted incorporation in a fashion so erratic as to 

1 Merewether and Stephens, Hist, of Municipal Corporations^ 37-38. 



show, at least, a want of appreciation of its importance 
by the boroughs ; (3) that the boroughs claimed to 
be incorporated without a charter to that express 
effect. 1 

I hope, technical and difficult as all this is, that 
I have made it clear that the question of incorpora- 
tion meant wholly a matter of land-holding. Other 
things followed in its train of course, but land-holding 
was the cause and the result aimed at by these 
statutes. The sovereign state wanted to control 
even more fully than it had done the municipal 
towns which were acting as corporate bodies in all 
sorts of ways, and held land even though they were 
not brought within the four corners of the law. 
The grouping of persons into municipal cities and 
boroughs was not within the ken of Norman law, 
and it was always trying to find out, so to speak, 
the legal person who represented the citizens, who 
could be punished or fined for the citizens — the legal 
person who held the citizens' common property, and 
who thus came within the ken of Norman law. It 
solved the difficulty by making the corporation itself 
a legal person, and by this means taking the largest 
power over the cities that it had yet exercised, for 
there could in future be no legal incorporation without 
the express sanction of the sovereign. 

A few important facts need to be stated about 
the charters of the city of London. The corporation 
of London has no governing charter or Act of Parlia- 
ment which really defines what its constitution is, 

1 I have quoted most of this passage from my Principles of Local 
Government, 79-82, where I have dealt with this important subject. 


and by which the election, powers, and functions 
of the governing bodies and principal officers are 
regulated. It has a great body of charters, 120 in 
number, extending over a period of 670 years, 
from William the Conqueror to the reign of George 
II.; but there is no authoritative exposition of the 
multifarious customs, rights, and privileges claimed by 
the corporation of London. In the earlier charters, 
down to the reign of Edward IV., the corporation 
of London, or the body politic, whatever it may 
have been, is described in every variety of way. For 
example, "the port reeve and burgesses," "the 
citizens of London," "the Barons of London," "the 
Mayor and commonalty" — the title of mayor being 
first used, as we have already seen, in 1269. 
In the reign of Henry III., the corporation is 
referred to as "the Mayor and commonalty," — and 
in some instances as "the Mayor and honest men." 
The Court of Common Council is a legislative 
body, and has the power by ancient custom, confirmed 
by charter of 1341 (3rd June, 15 Edward III.), 

"where any customs theretofore used and obtained proved 
hard or defective, or any matters newly arising within the 
city needed amendment, and no remedy had been previously 
provided, to apply and ordain a convenient remedy as often 
as it should seem expedient ; so that the same were agreeable 
to good faith and reason, for the common advantage of the 
citizens, and other liege subjects sojourning with them, and 
useful to king and people." 

The validity of acts of Common Council made 
under this power may of course be tried by the 
superior courts. But it is thus in the power of the 


corporation of London from time to time to remodel 
its own constitution, and therefore, without access to 
the acts or ordinances of the Court of Common 
Council, it is never possible to tell with certainty 
what the precise constitution of the corporation is. 
And in spite of all the charters and their gradual 
encroachment upon the law and custom of the city, 
it is still usual for the city of London to plead its 
franchises, not as royal grants, or as deriving their 
force from legislative sanction, but as customs existing 
from time immemorial. 1 

We have now noted the growth of charter laws, 
and we have ascertained them to be the outward and 
visible sign of the encroachment of the sovereign 
power upon the municipal rights and customs. We 
have noted, too, the existence of laws unsanctioned 
by charters, unsanctioned so far as can be ascer- 
tained by any authority higher than the city itself. 
I think these laws reveal an important characteristic 
of the municipal life of mediaeval times, namely, its 
characteristic independence of the state in all things 
where it is not directly brought into subjection by 
some express enactment or instrument of the state. 
In our days no municipal authority in the kingdom 
assumes a power except by express legislative grant. 
In mediaeval days every municipal authority assumed 
what powers it chose, or at all events a great variety 
of powers, and legislation and charter were used to 
check this assumption rather than to increase it. 
The difference between these two conditions of the 

1 See Spence, Equitable Jurisdiction of the Court of Chancery, i. 97 ; 
Pulling, Laws and Customs of London, 4. 


relationship of the state to the municipality is most 
marked, and it is impossible to ignore its significance 
in the history of London as a local institution. The 
charters stand for one thing ; the customs, acts, and 
rules of the city stand for quite a different thing. 
It is this difference which is the important fact to 
note. It explains so clearly what the charters were 
to the city, and what they were not. It dislodges 
them from their pride of place as emblems of an 
inherent freedom, and allocates them to their true 
position as evidence that the freedom inherited from 
past centuries of citizen life was changing for a new 
citizenship, having its defined and subordinate position 
in a sovereign state. 


The relationship of London to the sovereign is not 
wholly contained in the two important phases of it 
which we have examined — the control by the Tower 
and the granting of the charters. There is a directly 
personal relationship which belongs to the consti- 
tutional history of London, as much as to the con- 
stitutional history of the kingdom. And this shows 
once more that London stands in an absolutely 
unique position among English institutions. Com- 
parison with other cities, which has hitherto been 
useful now absolutely fails, for there is no other city 
with which comparison is possible. 

William the Conqueror, after gaining the adhesion 
of the great city to his cause, did two very significant 
acts — he first secured the military domination of the 
city, and secondly, he was crowned at Westminster. 
Both acts, one at the east of London, the other at 
the west, were performed from outside the city, not 
within it. The one a hostile act, perhaps better 
performed from without : the other a political act 
which was following the custom of the country. 

The political act of crowning at Westminster is 

full of significance. William, as sovereign monarch 

of England, would in the natural course have been 

crowned in the capital city of the country he had 



made his own — would, one might have supposed, have 
taken this course in order to show his power and 
strength. But above all things William was a states- 
man. He lost no opportunity of gaining ground. It 
was the custom of the English kings to be crowned not 
in the city of London nor in any other city, but 
in the ancient place of crowning in the open fields. 
William as an English king, duly elected successor 
to the last English king now deceased, would be 
crowned according to the ancient rites and on the 
ancient spot. And so we get the continuity between 
Saxon and Norman times of the peculiar circum- 
stances which have ever marked London's separate- 
ness from the state in all its early history. 

But this continuity was only formal. It is 
interesting to note the mere adhesion to ancient 
custom, though the significance has all gone out of 
the act. It was the same sacred spot where English 
kings were crowned ; it was the same ceremony ; 
there was even the appeal to the assembled freemen, 
English and French, as to whether they would have 
this William for their king ; there was, too, the 
answering shout of the English, "Aye, aye," which 
was given so lustily that the Normans thought it was 
the signal for attack, and forthwith rode through the 
crowd of English, cutting and hewing them down, 
while William, hearing the fearful din during the 
very act of being crowned, seemed to have feared 
that his day of reckoning had come. Mistaken as 
the Normans were by this great shout of acceptance, 
the English were more mistaken still in thinking that 
following the English custom of coronation meant 


following the English law. There was an end of 
that at all events. The English custom was reduced 
to a mere formula, a mere performance of a regulated 
rite, and the Normans interpreted it as they willed. 
They willed according to their personal interests. 
Their personal interests were not necessarily the 
interests of the state. 

I will discuss these affairs a little closely. They 
deserve it, for London is deeply concerned therein. 
The Norman conquest did not produce a settlement 
of the right of succession to the crown. No doubt 
at that time settlement by right could not be. Both 
William Rufus and Henry Beauclerk seized the crown 
to which their elder brother Robert should have 
succeeded if hereditary right had prevailed. In these 
cases a strong brother took the place of a weak one. 
Stephen, still more drastically, stepped into the vacant 
place by sheer force only. Hereditary right of the 
eldest was clearly not sufficiently established as a 
result of the Norman conquest to secure succession 
to the crown whatever might be the circumstances. 
At later dates, other kings, John, Henry IV., Richard 
III., Henry VII., William III., George I., were not 
kings by hereditary right. In all these cases there 
was some special reason, the personal villainy of the 
usurping monarch in causing the death of the rightful 
sovereign, the political conditions, or the popular 
demands, which brought about the position. But in the 
case of Stephen it was not an act of personal villainy, 
it was not political conditions or popular demands 
which settled that he was to reign over the newly 
formed English kingdom for nineteen years. He was 

[cap. viii.] THE GOVERNANCE OF LONDON 281 

the grandson of William the Conqueror, but grand- 
son through his mother Adeliza, daughter of the 
Conqueror, and not even the eldest grandson of this 
branch, for his elder brother Theobald lived and was 
worthy. Matilda, the daughter of the late king, 
Henry Beauclerk, claimed the throne as hereditary 
heir, and by the oaths of the barons, among whom 
was Stephen, Count of Blois, taken before her father's 
death. Thus if his two uncles, William Rufus and 
Henry Beauclerk, had set aside the principle of 
hereditary right as between brothers in one family, 
Stephen set it aside still more violently — in truth 
the obstacles to his claim as hereditary heir were 
overwhelming, and yet he not only claimed but 
obtained the crown and kept it during his life, 
though after severe struggles. 

What then were King Stephen's claims and how 
were they enforced ? This question is a large one, 
but it is worth attention. 

In the first place, his only serious opponent was 
a woman. Never in feudal Europe had a woman 
reigned as monarch. There is a vague popular idea 
that the so-called Salic law forbade succession by a 
woman, but though this is not the case, it is a fact 
that a woman was not held to be fit to reign as 
monarch. Matilda, the daughter of Henry I., came 
nearest to success, for she was upheld by some of 
the great barons and by a considerable party in the 
state. But she never succeeded in her great ambition. 
Whether she would have done so had she been 
wiser in action is even doubtful. But that she was 
supported by arms against the king de facto is an 


important consideration. Nobody took up arms on 
behalf of Arthur's sister, Eleanor of Brittany, when 
the grandson of Matilda, the heartless King John, 
had got rid of his nephew, the heir to the throne. 
No queen reigned, or was thought of as a possible 
monarch, until the break up of the feudal monarchy 
and the succession of the Tudor dignity introduced 
new ideas. 

If, however, it was the feeling that a woman could 
not reign in person, there was not only no feeling 
against, but there are many examples in favour of, 
her being able to transmit the right to reign to her 
son. Thus Matilda's son, Henry II., reigned unques- 
tioned by right of his mother, and Edward III. 
claimed the French throne by right of his mother, 
and in this claim there is more legal force accord- 
ing to the accepted doctrine of the age than is 
generally admitted by historians. 

If Stephen was by right of his mother a possible 
heir to William the Conqueror's throne, he was also 
sister's son to the last reigning monarch, Henry I. ; 
and sister's son was a very close relationship, accord- 
ing to the ideas of early times. 1 This ground of claim 
had already been put into operation in respect of the 
English throne by Stephen of Aumale, the son of 
William the Conqueror's sister, who tried to discrown 
William Rufus. It did Stephen, Count of Blois, good 
service in his claim to succeed Henry I. 

Stephen, therefore, had in his favour that Matilda 

1 Tacitus, Germ. xx. Thus Withgar is stated to have been— "turn 
sanguinis propinquitate turn bellandi artibus, avunculo juxta carus. 
(William of Malnicsbury, lib. i. § 16.) 

[cap. viii.] THE GOVERNANCE OF LONDON 283 

was a woman, and that he was sister's son to the last 
king and daughter's son to the great Conqueror. 
He had against him that his elder brother, Theobald, 
was alive, and therefore held better claims on the 
self - same grounds. Against these better claims 
Stephen set his popularity with the English, among 
whom he had lived all his life, the evident partiality 
of the old king for him, and above all things his 
sudden dash for possession of the treasury and the 
crown, which caused his opponent the task of regaining 
possession and not of simply taking up the lapsed right. 
Even this part of the events, however, has the 
sanction, or apparent sanction, of law. The accession 
of King Stephen was not a case of successful rebellion, 
or conquest, or dynastic quarrel. It was marked at 
each stage by undoubted even if curious and some- 
what ancient legal conceptions. To his position in 
the reigning house, sister's son to the last monarch, 
daughter's son to the first monarch of the Norman 
house, there must be added his claim to be the chosen 
of the people, to be elected in point of fact. This 
conception of election in our English monarchy is an 
interesting factor upon which Freeman and Green 
among our historians have laid most stress. When 
political sovereignty first shows itself, says Sir 
Henry Maine, this sovereignty is constantly seen 
to reside not in an individual nor in any definite line 
of persons, but in a group of kinsmen, a house, a sept, 
or a clan. 1 This exactly meets Stephen's position. 
He belonged to the royal house, sept or clan, of the 
Normans. He was chosen therefrom to be king. 

1 Early Law and Custom, 44. 


It has been necessary to go into these points 
of constitutional origins, because without them we 
cannot understand the position of London. And we 
have to ascertain why Stephen, able soldier and 
resolute man that he was, relied more upon consti- 
tutional usage than upon military success, threw over 
the crude methods of William and Henry, and adopted 
the formal methods of a constitution. 

Now what are the facts ? It is very clear that 
immediately following the conquest, and until after 
the reign of Henry L, London was not very powerful 
in the land. The Norman grip was upon her, and 
the Normans had not entered into her life — had not 
been absorbed by her, had not, in fact, become 
Londoners. Henry's rule had, however, altered many 
things, and it brought about a fusion of Normans 
and English in London. Elsewhere, the towns were 
for many years divided into two parts. Southampton 
had one section for the Normans and another for 
the English ; so had Nottingham, each section of 
the town being governed by its own rules. 

But in London the Normans, in grasping the 
power handed down from of old, succeeded to all 
the consequences of that power. They claimed to 
do things which the men of London in Saxon times 
had claimed. The evidence of the chronicles with 
reference to Stephen's succession is that the Londoners 
claimed the right of election, and I cannot but 
think that we have here a revival of the old claim 
under the new conditions. The new conditions are 
somewhat notable. London had accepted William the 
Conqueror as she had accepted other sovereigns of 

[cap. viii.] THE GOVERNANCE OF LONDON 285 

the land — that is, as sovereign of a country in 
which London held a quasi-independence. But this 
acceptance of the Norman king had, as we have seen, 
worked differently from other cases. William had 
the instincts of a statesman, and his sovereignty was 
intended to become a state sovereignty, not a tribal 
sovereignty as the Saxon sovereignty had been. 
Accordingly London had to succumb under the 
visible domination of the Tower of London. William 
Rufus was a tyrant, pure and simple, and acted to 
London and to other places as such. There was no 
possibility of development or change under his rule. 
Henry Beauclerk was a statesman as great as his 
father, and far more liberally endowed. London 
progressed in that the Normans who had taken 
possession of her became Londoners. The fusion 
was remarkably quick. It was only possible by 
means of the peculiar constitution of London which 
was not the home of a race or of a people, not the 
defended burgh of the Anglo-Saxons, but the quasi- 
independent city with Roman traditions, with Roman, 
Celt, Saxon, Danish, and other foreign elements ; and 
with commerce as the governing factor of life. This 
was a place in which to lose one's race and to take 
upon oneself a new order of things. And so under 
Henry I. the Normans became Londoners. They, 
indeed, obtained from that king a special clause in 
his charter to London — 

"the churches and barons and citizens may have and hold 
quietly and in peace their sokes with all their customs, it 
being understood that the guests who shall be tarrying in the 
sokes shall pay customs to no other than him to whom such 


soke shall belong, or to the officer whom he shall have there 
appointed." * 

Here we have at once the sign and effect of the 
Norman grip upon London. They carved out for 
themselves little islands of jurisdiction which they 
governed unrestricted by any external control, except 
that of the king, and these sokes, as they were 
called, though encroachments upon the municipal 
organisation, helped to make the Norman sokemen 

When, therefore (to continue my statement of the 
conditions under which London acted in the matter 
of succession to the crown), a new sovereign, 
Stephen, Count of Blois, started up, set aside other 
representatives of the Norman house and stood upon 
ancient tribal rules of succession, it was necessary 
to enforce these rules by something more potent 
than an appeal to arms. Even victory would not 
make him king of the English. Accordingly an 
appeal was made to the formal act of election, 
and it is remarkable that as a result, London, 
and London only, was allowed to revive her old 
claim. Accustomed of old to have a strong position 
in the election of sovereign she put it forth with 
renewed vigour, with Normans to help her, when a 
sovereign candidate needed the act of election to 
help him get over his rather feeble title from other 
sources. This seems to me to be the true reading 
of these events. I do not think London claimed 
the right of choosing a king for all England — her 
right was that of accepting as her own sovereign 

1 Liber Aldus, i. 129, § 9. 

[cap. viii.] THE GOVERNANCE OF LONDON 287 

the king accepted by the rest of the country. But 
in Stephen's case the position was enormously 
strained, and the action adopted by London 
virtually, though not constitutionally, became an 
act of choosing a king for all England. The 
Saxon Chronicle says Stephen "came to London, 
and the London folk received him . . . and hallowed 
him king on midwinter day." Mr Green, relying 
on the Chronicle Gesta Stephani, has put into words, 
powerful in the story they tell, the political force 
of this act of the " London folk." First in the 
volume of proceedings of the Archaeological Institute 
at London in 1866, and subsequently in slightly 
more guarded language in his History of the English 
People, Mr Green points out the significance of the 
action of London in the election of King Stephen : 

" Neither baron nor prelate was present to constitute a 
national council, but the great city did not hesitate to take 
their place. The voice of her citizens had long been accepted 
as representative of the popular assent in the election of a 
king, but it marks the progress of English independence 
under Henry that London now claimed of itself the right 
of election. Undismayed by the absence of the hereditary 
counsellors of the crown, its ' Alderman and wise folk 
gathered together the folkmoot, and there providing at 
their own will for the good of the realm unanimously 
resolved to choose a king.' The solemn deliberation ended 
in the choice of Stephen." 1 

This, no doubt, was the political effect of the 

1 Stephen's charter of 11 36 opens with the words, "Ego Stephanus 
Dei gratia assensu cleri et populi in regem Anglorum electus," and he 
alludes to his election in the passionate outburst against those who 
revolted against him in 1137, "cum me in regem elegerint cur me 
distituunt?" (William of Malmesbury, ii. 541, 544 (Roll's edit.).) 


action taken by London on this occasion when the 
facts made it possible. It was, however, not the 
normal procedure, not the ancient position of 
London. In reviving the old claim to accept for 
herself a sovereign lord, London on this occasion 
had in effect chosen a king for the country. 

Perhaps even more significant than the actual 
election of Stephen are the strange proceedings 
which resulted from the temporary success of 
Matilda after the capture of the king and her 
election to the throne. The clergy and the nobles 
assembled, and the legate delivered a great speech 
in favour of Matilda. These events are recorded by 
William of Malmesbury in a narrative which thus 
continues : 

" When all present had either becomingly applauded his 
sentiments, or, by their silence, not contradicted them, he 
added : ' We have despatched messengers for the Londoners, 
who, from the importance of their city in England, are 
almost nobles, as it were {Londonienscs qui sunt quasi 
optimates pro magnitudiyie civitatis) to meet us on this 
business ; and have sent them a safe-conduct : and we trust 
they will not delay their arrival beyond to-morrow : where- 
fore let us give them indulgence till that time.' On the 
fourth day of the week the Londoners came; and being 
introduced to the council, urged their cause, so far as to 
say, that they were sent from the community {a communionc 
quam vacant Londoniaruni) as they call it, of London, not 
to contend, but to entreat that their lord the king might 
be liberated from captivity : that all the barons, who had 
long since been admitted to their fellowship {qui in eorum 
communioncm jamdudum recepti fuerant) most earnestly 
solicited this of the lord legate and the archbishop, as well 
as of all the clergy who were present. The legate answered 

[cap. viii.] THE GOVERNANCE OF LONDON 289 

them copiously and clearly : and, that their request might 
be the less complied with, the speech of the preceding day 
was repeated, with the addition, that it did not become the 
Londoners, who were considered as the chief people of 
England, in the light of nobles {qui prcecipui habebantur 
in Anglia sicut proceres) to side with those persons who 
had deserted their lord in battle ; by whose advice the king 
had dishonoured the holy church ; and who, in fact, only 
appeared to favour the Londoners, that they might drain 
them of their money. In the meantime, a certain person, 
whose name, if 1 rightly remember, was Christian, a clerk 
belonging to the queen, as I heard, rose up, and held forth 
a paper to the legate. He having silently perused it, exalted 
his voice to the highest pitch, and said, that it was informal, 
and improper to be recited in so great an assembly, especi- 
ally of dignified and religious persons. For, among other 
offensive and singular points, the signature of a person 
was affixed to it, who, in the preceding year at a similar 
council, had attacked the venerable bishops with opprobrious 
language. The legate thus baffling him, the clerk was not 
wanting to his mission, but, with notable confidence, read 
the letter in their hearing ; of which this was the purport : 
' The queen earnestly entreated the whole clergy assembled, 
and especially the bishop of Winchester, the brother of her 
lord, to restore the said lord to his kingdom, whom abandoned 
persons, and even such as were under homage to him, had 
cast into chains.' To this suggestion, the legate answered 
to the same effect as to the Londoners. These conferring 
together, declared, that they would relate the decree of the 
council to their townsmen {convicaneis suis) and give it their 
support as far as they were able. On the fifth day of the 
week the council broke up. ... It was now a work of 
great difficulty to soothe the minds of the Londoners : for 
though these matters, as 1 have said, were agitated immedi- 
ately after Easter, yet was it only a few days before the 
Nativity of St John that they would receive the empress. 
At that time great part of England readily submitted to 



her government ; her brother Robert was assiduously 
employed in promoting her dignity by every becoming 
method ; kindly addressing the nobility, making many 
promises, and intimidating the adverse party, or even, by 
messengers, exhorting them to peace ; and already restoring 
justice, and the law of the land, and tranquillity, throughout 
every district which favoured the empress ; and it is sufficiently 
notorious that if his party had trusted to Robert's modera- 
tion and wisdom, it would not afterwards have experienced 
so melancholy a reverse. The lord legate, too, appeared of 
laudable fidelity in furthering the interests of the empress. 
But, behold, at the very moment when she imagined she 
should get possession of all England, everything was changed. 
The Londoners, ever suspicious and murmuring among them- 
selves, now burst out into open expressions of hatred ; and, as 
it is reported, even laid wait for their sovereign and her nobles. 
Aware of and escaping this plot, they gradually retired from 
the city, without tumult and in a certain military order. The 
empress was accompanied by the legate and David King of 
Scotland, the heroine's uncle, together with her brother Robert, 
who then, as at every other time, shared her fortune ; and, in 
short, all her partizans to a man escaped in safety. The 
Londoners, learning their departure, flew to their residence 
and plundered everything which they had left in their haste." l 

There is no necessity to dwell upon these 
proceedings. They show the remarkable position 
assumed by London, a position not due to its 
Norman history, but reflecting the more ancient 
position which it occupies in Anglo-Saxon history 
as a city with whom kings made compacts, to which 
the Londoners were always faithful. Stephen con- 
tinued to do without any seeming break what Alfred 
and ^Ethelstan and Eadmund had done, and for a 
time the Norman rule had lost its bearings. 

1 William of Malmesbury, anno 1141 (Roll's series, ii. 577). 

[cap. viii.] THE GOVERNANCE OF LONDON 291 

This position, won from Stephen's necessities, 
did not cease with him. Throughout all the dynastic 
troubles London has ever been to the fore. She 
took part in the formal deposition of Richard II. 
She helped Henry IV. to the throne, and was ever 
faithful to Edward IV. Everybody must remember 
the remarkable scene depicted by Shakespeare in 
the election of Richard III., when the citizens 
gathered at Baynard's Castle and offered the Duke 
of Gloucester the throne. This scene, derived in 
the main from historical sources, is only a reflection 
of what had occurred with King Stephen. William 
of Malmesbury's narrative helps us to understand 
the scene with Richard. It is the last formal act of 
the city of London in choosing a sovereign. That 
it was so utterly formal, so obviously got up to serve 
a purpose, shows the ancient position claimed by 
London more completely than almost anything 
else. The position of the city under Richard III. 
had changed completely from what it was under 
Stephen, and the resort to the old formula, when it 
could be nothing but a formula, shows the strength 
of the original position. 

I think this will suffice to explain how the customs 
connected with the coronation of the sovereign 
gradually sunk away into mere formalities, mere 
observance of custom, to be emphasized or belittled 
according to the circumstances by which each sovereign 
came into touch with them — a usurping sovereign 
like Stephen, or John, or Henry IV., or Richard III. 
would emphasize the element of election, an hereditary 
sovereign like Henry II., Edward I., and others would 


minimise the element of election and accentuate the 
element of succession from previous sovereigns. 

Though the city of London was thus connected 
with the sovereign through the ceremony of election, 
it was never the real seat of the sovereign govern- 
ment. Westminster, not London, was the place of 
crowning, the traditional place of crowning the 
English kings. It had become under the Confessor 
the palace and home of the sovereign. Rufus added 
to the glories of Westminster by building the hall we 
all love so well, and building it so as to cover the great 
stone, the king's bench, as it came to be called, upon 
which the English kings were by ancient custom raised 
to the throne. Here was another Norman innovation. 
Open-air ceremonies were not of their system. If 
the ancient stone was to retain its place in the 
coronation ceremony it must be roofed over and 
the new ceremony should be performed under more 
civilised conditions. The changes are always insidious. 
The Normans did not uproot English customs they 
only formalised and legalised them ; and of course in 
the end they broke them up and transformed them. 
We have seen how this was so with the charters, 
and we see it again in the roofing over of the 
picturesque survival of the coronation place at the 
spot where the ceremony of election took place. 

The dual position of London and Westminster as 
local institutions in relation to the state government 
is shown most clearly in one other way. When 
Henry III. consulted his Parliament before leaving 
the kingdom, he consulted, too, the London citizens. 
I must quote the record of these transactions because 

[cap. viir.] THE GOVERNANCE OF LONDON 293 

they bear immediately upon the object I have in 

" On the morrow of the Lord's ascension, on the 30th day 
of May [1252], namely, by precept of his lordship the king, 
the whole community of London was assembled at the church- 
yard at Westminster ; where his lordship the king took leave 
of them, saying that he was about to cross over into 
Gascoigne ; and gave orders that all persons in the city- 
should meet together on the Sunday following at St Paul's 
Cross in the presence of those whom he should send thither 
and there make oath of fealty to Sir Edward, his son, and to 
his queen." 

And again, in 1259, 

" There was held a great and long Parliament, and his 
lordship the king being in the great Hall at Westminster, 
where many earls and barons and a countless multitude of 
people had met, caused the composition to be openly and 
distinctly read, that had been made by the barons as to 
amending the usages and laws of the realm. . . . And 
then his lordship the king took leave to cross over into 
France. ... In the same year his lordship the king came 
to the Cross of Saint Paul's, a countless multitude of the city 
being there assembled in Folkmote, and took leave of the 
people to cross over, just as he had done before at 
Westminster." 1 

The formal assembly of London in folkmoot, 
the assembly at Westminster, the care of the king 
to deal with the city as with a separate constitutional 
unit, are all points which add considerably to the 
evidence from other sources of the independent 
position of London. 

The position obtained for Westminster has never 

1 Chronicles of the Mayors and Sheriffs of London , 20, 45. 


been lost, and the separation of the city of London 
from the constitutional seat of the state government 
has remained without change. There was but little 
tendency even to make the city a royal residence. 
The Tower as a fortress was not exactly a place of 
residence. The original building of Bridewell, accord- 
ing to Stow, was for a long time a palace of the kings, 
and Henry III. is said to have held his courts there. 
King John is said to have had a house in Cornhill, 
and Stow identifies the spot in the following passage : 

" Pope's head tavern with other houses adjoining, strongly 
built of stone hath of old time been all in one, pertaining to 
some great estate or rather to the king of this realm as may 
be supposed both by the largeness thereof and by the arms 
. . . which were the whole arms of England before the reign of 
Edward III. . . . and are fair and largely graven in stone on 
the fore front towards the High Street." ■ 

The spot is still to be identified by Pope's Head 
Alley, a footway from Cornhill to Lombard Street, 
and the inn alluded to by Stow has had a long and 
famous history. Tower Royal is another place 
identified by Stow as a palace of the king. King 
Stephen, he says, was there lodged. Edward III. 
granted it to his Queen Philippa, by whom it was 
used as a depository for her wardrobe. The queen 
extensively repaired, if she did not rebuild it, and 
the particulars of the works executed may still be 
seen in the original MS. accounts of the period. 
There is little evidence of royal occupation before 
that of Queen Philippa, and it was not called Tower 
Royal before her occupation. In Stows time it had 

1 Stow, Sun>ey of London, Thorn's edit. 75. 

[cap. viii.] THE GOVERNANCE OF LONDON 295 

been neglected and turned into stabling for the kings 
horses and is ''now (1598) letten out to divers men 
and divided into tenements." 1 The bishop's palace 
near St Paul's was often used by the kings when 
occasion required. All these examples supply, I think, 
evidence of the fact that practically no permanent 
royal palace was ever situated within the walls of the 
city — the capital of the kingdom. The princes lodged 
there. John, Duke of Lancaster, had his house burned 
by the rebels in Richard II.'s reign; Richard, Duke 
of Gloucester, occupied Crosby Place : Henry, Prince 
of Wales, son of James I., perhaps occupied the house 
in Fleet Street. 2 

It cannot be that the meagre record of the kings 
of England living in the capital is altogether due 
to accident. Their great fortress was all that seemed 
to concern them in the city ; their palace was outside 
the city, at Westminster. The history of London's 
long isolation from her immediate surroundings, which 
was due to the special causes already dwelt upon, is 
continued under Norman rule. This isolation had 
special constitutional significance in pre- Norman times. 
It meant then a sort of quasi-independence of the city 
and its government. Under Norman rule it meant 
much less. It was only the survival of ancient custom 
— custom too strong to be entirely swept away, but not 
strong enough to exert all its old force. It enables us of 
to-day to understand better pre- Norman London and 
the significant change that befell the city under Norman 

1 Stow, op. cit. 27, 92. 

2 This house was purchased by the London County Council in 1896, 
and a descriptive pamphlet has been published giving its history. 


rule. We must be careful, however, not to read into 
mere formulae the significance of original custom, 
though we are entitled to lay stress on the tenacity 
with which original custom lived on as survival, 
because unless it had been well grounded in 
the traditions of the citizens of London, unless it 
had once been a veritable part of their municipal 
life, it would have died out. All the custom 
that the kings of Norman rule conformed to, 
or tolerated, was once actual daily life to the 
Londoners. And I cannot help thinking that in the 
late Queen's reign we have seen perhaps the last stage 
in the decadence of this ancient custom. All will 
remember the last jubilee procession, and the special 
ceremonial which occurred at the spot where Temple 
Bar formerly stood. The ceremonial betokened the 
formal entry of Her Majesty into the city. When 
Temple Bar was there, it was the custom for the 
Queen on state occasions to formally ask permission 
to enter the city by ceremonially knocking at the 
outer door of the old gate. But this was only a custom 
transferred to Temple Bar from the older gate of the 
city, " Ludgate," which stood at the wall boundary. 
When Ludgate was in existence the bar at the bottom 
of the Strand "was only posts, rails, and a chain." 1 
These were replaced by a house of timber erected 
across the street with a narrow gateway, and an entry 
on the south side of it under the house ; and when this 
was destroyed by the fire in 1666, the Temple Bar 
which we have known was erected by Sir Christopher 
Wren in 1670- 1672. Thus the growth of this bar to 

1 Strype, lib. iii. 278. 

[cap. viii.] THE GOVERNANCE OF LONDON 297 

be considered one of the city gates was gradual, and 
it accumulated round it the former ceremonies which 
belonged to the real gate of the city, Ludgate. These 
ceremonies included not only the formal request for 
admission at the time of a ceremonial visit. On the 
death of every monarch the city used to close its 
gates, and admission had to be formally asked for 
before the new monarch could be proclaimed within 
her walls. 1 We cannot disassociate these customs 
from the higher constitutional customs just examined. 
They belong to the same order, and tell exactly the 
same story of the position of London in relation to 
the sovereign. 

The position thus attained is strengthened by 
contrast with the constitutional organisation of 
Westminster itself. The earliest description of the 
boundary of Westminster occurs in a charter of 
King Eadgar, a.d. 951. It is as follows: 

" First up from the Thames, along Merfleet to Pollen stock, 
so to Bullinga fen : afterwards from the fen, along the old 
ditch to Cowford. From Cowford up, along Tyburne to the 
broad military road : following the military road to the old 
stock of St Andrew's Church : then within London fen, pro- 
ceeding south on Thames to mid stream ; and along the 
stream by land and strand, to Merfleet" 2 

This description shows the boundaries to have 
started from the Thames at London. This would 
probably be a point west of the city wall at Ludgate, 
so as to exclude the fen formed from the Fleet. 
The western boundary of the Savoy would 

1 Toulmin Smith {Government by Commission^ 332) records this 
interesting fact. 

2 Sir Henry Ellis in Archccologia^ xxvi. 224. 


probably be the Merfleet alluded to in the charter. 
Pollen stock may have been the termination of the 
high ground on which the monastery was placed. 
Bullinga fen is the ancient marsh adjoining Tothill, 
and later known as St George's Fields. The old 
ditch is King's Scholars Pond River. Cowford was 
no doubt at the point where the Tyburn stream 
joined the Thames. This stream formed its western 
boundary, separating it from the manor of Eia, which 
was between Chelsea and Kensington ; it passed by 
the west side of Tothill fields, Buckingham House 
(almost to the level of the present palace structure), 
into the Green Park, and along White Horse Street, 
Bolton Row, Breton Mews, South Molton Lane, 
crossing Oxford Street opposite Stratford Place. 
The broad military way is Oxford Street. The 
boundary deflected to St Andrew's Church, and then 
joined the starting point at Merfleet. 

In 1222 another description of the boundary 
appears on record. This is in a decree of that year 
for terminating the dispute between the abbey and the 
see of London. The western boundary is the same 
as in 951. The eastern is different. It is described 
to be " as the king's highway stretches towards 
London to the garden of St Giles' Hospital," which 
is the present boundary of that part of the city of 
Westminster to the east end of Oxford Street, and 

" thence as the way beyond the said garden extends to the 
boundaries dividing Mersland and the parish of St Giles ; 
thence according to the separation of the gardens of Tholi, 
and the monks of Westminster to the house of Simon the 
weaver, and from the house of the same Simon as the king's 

[cap. viii.] THE GOVERNANCE OF LONDON 299 

highway extends towards Westminster to the rivulet Ulebrig 
running into the Thames." J 

Ulebrig was Ivy Bridge in the Strand, at the end of 
the present Cecil Street. 

These are the boundaries of the manorial juris- 
diction given to the Abbey of Westminster, and the 
government was that of a manor, the Dean and 
Chapter appointing the steward who was the chief 

It was intended to be much more than merely 
abbey territory. Henry III. tried to make it 
exempt from the jurisdiction of the sheriffs of 
London and Middlesex. 

" His Lordship the King requested them [the Corporation] 
to permit the Abbot of Westminster to enjoy the franchise 
which the King had granted him in Middlesex in exchange 
for other liberties which the citizens might of right demand. 
To which the citizens made answer that they could do 
nothing as to such matter without the consent of the whole 
community. . . . This subject was afterwards settled, it being 
decided that the Sheriffs of London may enter all vills and 
tenements which the Abbot holds in Middlesex, even unto 
the gate of his abbey." 2 

Subsequently it was given the privilege of a 
city, though its constitution was subordinated to 
the Dean and Chapter of the Abbey, and it was a city 
but in name. As Dean Stanley wrote some years 

" Whatever show of independence the city of Westminster 
still possesses, it owes to a reminiscence of the ancient 

1 Wharton, His tor la de Eftiscopis, 1695, 252. 

2 Chronicles of London, 16, 61. 


grandeur of the Abbey. The Dean is still the shadowy 
head of a shadowy corporation, and on the rare occasions 
of pageants which traverse the whole Metropolis the Dean 
with his High Steward and High Bailiff succeeds to the 
Lord Mayor at Temple Bar." 1 

These facts are sufficient for the present purpose. 
They show a system of government absolutely 
different from that of the city. The constitution of 
Westminster was based upon the English manorial 
system in its most complete form, untouched by 
outside influences. London was governed upon a 
system as unlike it as possible. The two systems 
were alongside of each other, but being drawn from 
different origins they developed in quite different 
fashion. We see in particular the lordship at the 
top of the Westminster system. We see in London 
the elected mayor, and we may well recall at this point 
the cry of the Londoners that they would have no lord 
but their mayor. This Westminster evidence shows 
too that the constitution of London was built upon the 
government of the " whole community," which not 
even the power and personal interest of Henry III. 
could put on one side, and it also shows by contrast what 
London would have become if its established form of 
government had not successfully resisted encroachment. 

The separation of Westminster from the city — 
the seat of Government from the capital — emphasizes 
the action of the sovereign most markedly. It was 
always emphatically the action of an outside authority, 

1 Memorials of Westminster Abbey, 352. Westminster having been 
made one of the Metropolitan boroughs by the Act of 1899, has once 
again been granted the honorary title of city. 

[cap. viii.] THE GOVERNANCE OF LONDON 301 

whether in friendliness or in enmity. This is chiefly 
shown in the hostile actions, and having already 
dealt with the friendly actions I will briefly note 
one or two examples of the kind of evidence produced 
from hostile action. It is unnecessary to dwell over- 
long on this point, because it contains elements not 
necessary to the subject before us, and I shall, 
therefore, only illustrate this particular aspect of the 
case from such evidence as brings into prominence 
features already familiar to us from another side. 

Henry III. showed direct and personal hostility. 
Immediately after the festivities of Christmas (1249) 
the king entered upon the following plan of harassing 
the citizens of London. He suspended the carrying 
on of traffic in that city for a fortnight by establishing 
a new fair at Westminster, and immediately after- 
wards he sent letters asking them for pecuniary aid. 
On receipt of this message the citizens said : 

" Woe to us, woe to us ! where is the liberty of London 
which is so often bought, so often granted, so often guaranteed 
by writing \totiens scripta\ so often sworn to be respected. 
For each year almost like slaves of the lowest condition we 
are impoverished by new tallages and injuriously harassed by 
foxlike arguments ; nor can we discover into what whirlpool 
the property [dona] of which we are robbed is absorbed." 1 

At length, however, the citizens yielded their 
consent to a contribution of two thousand pounds. 
His usual oppression, moreover, raged without any 
moderation ; for all vendible articles, if they were 
not concealed as if they were stolen goods, especially 
meats and drinks, were seized for the use of the king. 

1 Mathew Paris, Chronica Majora, v. 49. 


Another occasion occurs in 1255, when, in conse- 
quence of the escape from gaol of a certain clerk, 
who, according to report, was guilty of murder, and 
who had been imprisoned at London, the king 
instituted severe proceedings against the citizens, and 
demanded of them the sum of three thousand marks 
under the name of tallage, and for punishment 
because they did not guard their prison more care- 
fully. A certain man of letters who was accused 
of the murder of a prior of the Black order on the 
continent was imprisoned in Newgate, but made his 
escape. The queen complained to the king. The 
fugitive fled to his brothers of the order of Minors, 
who received him amongst them, and shaving off 
his hair conferred on him the habit of their religious 
order, whereupon the citizens became enraged, and 
vented their anger upon the brethren, to their great 
injury. When cited before the king they replied 
that he himself had given up the prisoner to the 
bishop of London, who demanded him as being an 
ordained clerk ; that the bishop not having a proper 
place of incarceration had begged of them to allow 
him the use of the prison of Newgate ; that the 
citizens granted the bishop's request, and that, in 
the meantime, the prisoner deceived the keepers 
placed over him by the bishop and escaped, where- 
fore the blame of the escape they submitted ought 
not to be imputed to the citizens. 1 

Financial oppression was perhaps to be expected. 
In 1 24 1 the king took by force from the mayor of 
London [a majori Londoniaruni\ an annual revenue of 

1 Mathew Paris, Chronica Majora y v. 486. 

[cap. viii.] THE GOVERNANCE OF LONDON 303 

forty pounds, which each mayor had been accustomed 
during his own time to receive yearly for the honour- 
able support of his dignity from the commonwealth 
of the city as if from a republic. For it had been 
intimated to him that the mayor of the city, under 
pretence of making that collection which was limited 
to certain terms, laid his hands heavily on the poor 
citizen, more than he was allowed to do, and secretly 
laid up money for himself in his own coffers. He 
therefore compelled Gerard Bat, the then mayor, to 
make oath that he himself would not again collect 
and receive that tax. Not long after this the citizens 
of London, contrary to the custom and liberty of 
the city, and like slaves of the basest conditions, 
were compelled to pay a sum of money to the king, 
not under the name and title of voluntary aid but 
of tallage, and this import weighed very heavily 
upon them. 1 

In 1244 it is recorded that the king, eagerly 
gaping after money without committing the com- 
munity of the kingdom in general, at least without 
the advice of his nobles, shamelessly, and by force, 
extorted fifteen hundred marks from the London 
citizens ; the king's party asserted that twenty years 
back they had received one of their fellow-citizens, 
Walter de Buckerell, who had been justly expelled 
from the city, and had been a long time in exile, but 
the London citizens contradicted this, and declared 
that he had been made a legal subject by the 
entreaties of and the presents made by his brother 
Andrew to the king, that he was forgiven by the 

1 Mathew Paris, Chronica Mq/ora, iv. 94. 


king's consent and command, and became one of 
their fellow-citizens, as the king's rolls would testify ; 
but, finally, the citizens were obliged to pay the 
said sum of money to be thrown away on foreigners. 1 

Two other examples occur from the same authority. 
About this time (1246) the citizens of London, whom 
the royal clemency was bound to keep under the 
wings of its safe protection, were compelled in bitter- 
ness of heart to redeem themselves by the payment 
of a thousand marks under the title of tallage ; and 
in 1249 the king spent Christmas in London, and 
shamelessly transgressing the bounds of royal dignity 
on the day of the circumcision exacted from each of 
the citizens of London, one by one, the first gifts 
which the people are accustomed superstitiously to 
call New Year's gifts. 2 

Let me next instance a case where Edward I. 
took the government of the city into his own hands 
absolutely. I quote from the London records : 

" In the year of our Lord 1280 [1285], being the fourteenth 
year of the reign of King Edward, son of Henry, Gregory 
de Rokesley, the then Mayor, the sheriffs, Aldermen, and 
other dignitaries of London were summoned to appear upon 
the Feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul [29 June] before 
John de Kirkeby, Treasurer, and the other Justiciars of his 
lordship the King, in the Tower of London, for the purpose 
of holding Inquests there ; and that the said Gregory at 
Berkyngechirche of purpose resigned the Mayoralty, and 
delivered the common zeal of the city to one Stephen Aswy 
and other Aldermen, and then entered the Tower with the 
rest, not as Mayor, but as one of the Aldermen, and a 

1 Mathevv Paris, Chronica Afajora, iv. 395-396. 

2 Ibid. iv. 510-51 1. 

[cap. viii.] THE GOVERNANCE OF LONDON 305 

neighbour of the citizens before mentioned alleging on behalf 
of the city that by their ancient liberties they are not bound 
to enter the Tower of London for the purpose of holding 
Inquests or to make appearance there for judgment, unless 
forewarned for forty days thereto — Whereupon the said John 
de Kirkeby took the Mayoralty and Liberties of London into 
the King's hand, because the city was found to be without 
a Mayor. Wherefore the citizens, upon appearing afterwards 
at Westminster before the King, were arrested to the number 
of eighty men, and some other citizens, who the day before 
had been with the Mayor at Berkyngechirche and the Tower, 
were incarcerated. But on the fourth day after they were 
all liberated, Stephen Aswy excepted. And his lordship 
the King then gave the citizens a warden in place of their 
Mayor, namely, Sir Ralph de Sandwich, Knight, and com- 
manded him to keep and govern the citizens according to 
their custom and liberties." 1 

These proceedings strike me as very remarkable. 
Edward I. was a great monarch, and a great 
statesman. The citizens attempted to maintain rights 
against the crown, and he promptly took effective 
action against them by revoking their charters and 
appointing his own nominee, as warden, to govern 
the city. This mode of government lasted until 
11 Wednesday in Easter week in the six and twentieth 
year of the same King Edward," when "all the 
Aldermen and certain other reputable men of the said 
city appeared before the king at Westminster, and 
then his lordship the king with his council granted 
unto them the election of the mayor." 2 That is to say, 
the government of the city was in the hands of the 
king for twelve years. This is evidence enough of 

1 Riley, 15-16. 

2 Ibid. 16-17. 



the power of the state, although the citizens, prompt 
to profit by the requirements of the crown, did not 
fail in the reign of the great Edward's grandson, 
Edward III., as recorded in their archives, to retrieve 
their position. As the 

" said appointment of a warden and seizure of the liberties in 
the King's hands, for the transgression of one individual 
seemed rather an act of caprice than an exercise of legitimate 
right, to the end that the same might not happen in future, 
his lordship King Edward the third granted by his charter that 
for no personal transgression whatsoever, or personal judgment 
pronounced against any officer of the said city, should the 
liberties of the city be taken into the king's hand, or into 
those of his heirs, nor should any warden in the same city 
upon such pretext be appointed." 1 

Another side of the question is contained in a 
record where the mayor is commanded to attend the 
king abroad. Thus an order was made 

" to the sheriffs and community of London to provide in the 
place of Henry de Waleys, mayor of that city, who is going 
with certain men of the city to the king in parts beyond 
sea, by the king's order, by the counsel of the said mayor, 
and by their own counsel, two discreet and faithful men 
of their fellow-citizens to keep the city in the mayor's 
place in the king's faith and tranquillity during the mayor's 
absence, so that the sheriffs and community shall be 
intendent to the said two citizens until the mayor's return 
in all things pertaining to the government and custody 
of the city, as they would be to the mayor, if he were 
present." 2 

The theoretical superiority of the sovereign state 
could therefore in practice be an actual superiority 

1 Riley, 16-17. 

2 Close Rolls, 2 Edward I. Calendar, 87. 


whenever the sovereign king was powerful enough. 
It is true, however, that the king's appointed governor 
of the city was " enjoined upon oath to preserve the 
city of London and all its liberties and ancient 
customs unhurt in such manner as from of old they 
had been wont to enjoy the same." 1 In this way, 
no doubt, actual continuity of municipal law was 
assured, but it was assured at the express com- 
mand and will of the sovereign, not by the in- 
herent right of the city. We have therefore arrived 
at the stage of actual predominance of the state even 
though the state allowed government in the city 
according to ancient municipal customs and rules. 
This continuity is of great value historically, helps 
us to go back along the stream of time to the days 
when the state was not supreme, helps us to realise 
what city government meant in times when the state 
was only rising to its final position of supremacy ; 
but it does not bridge over the chasm rent by the 
one supreme exercise of sovereign authority in the 
hitherto continuous strata of municipal authority. 

These facts help us to understand that if the 
Norman conquest brought about the beginning of 
full and complete state government in England, 
it was, in London, not quite regular in action, 
allowing customs and formulae to stand for the old 
condition of semi - independence, and exactions and 
force to stand for the new condition of subordina- 
tion to the sovereign. The state assumed the reins 
of power in every direction, broke down the last 
remnants of the old tribal conditions which obtained 

1 Riley, 16. 


in Saxon times, and began to work its way to the 
position of supremacy which it now actually occupies. 1 
In theory, ever since the Norman conquest, the 
state has been supreme. In practice it has allowed a 
great deal of government to remain in the hands 
of municipal authorities. This allowance does not 
derogate from the supremacy. " What the sovereign 
permits he commands " is the doctrine of the ana- 
lytical jurists, and it has been in full force ever since 
the Norman sovereignty. 

1 Cf. Pollock and Maitland, History of English Law, i. 69. 


The self-governance of London during the period 
which witnessed the changes and development 
described in previous chapters does not stand clearly 
forth. It is hidden behind the movement of events 
which were destined to control the whole future life of 
the city. It peeps out here and there, and we become 
acquainted with sokes, with the mayoralty, with the 
commonalty, with powers exercised by the king, 
with rights exercised by the city, with defences put 
up by the city against sovereign power, and with 
some of the other phases which are discoverable 
beneath the main movement. It does not do, how- 
ever, to rely upon these intermittent glimpses of the 
fact. They are apt to assume proportions which 
are not rightly theirs. They are apt to be measured 
by no standard but their own, and thus to give not 
the real picture but only a small fragment of it. 

This is most clearly shown by the stages of 
London's municipal history as described by Bishop 
Stubbs : 

11 It passed from the unorganised aggregation of hereditary 
franchises, of which it seems in the eleventh century to have 
been composed ; through the communal stage in which 
magnates and commons conducted a long and fruitless strife 
to a state of things in which the mercantile element secured 



its own supremacy. It was on this condition of things that 
the Charter of Edward IV., which allowed the City to acquire 
lands by purchase and in mortmain, conferred the complete 
character of a corporation. Most of the essential features 
of such a body London already possessed ; the city had long 
had a seal, and had made bye-laws ; the other three marks 
which the lawyers have described as constituting a Corpora- 
tion aggregate are the power to purchase lands and hold 
them, ' to them and to their successors ' (not simply their 
heirs, which is an individual and hereditary succession only) ; 
the power of suing and being sued, and the perpetual 
succession implied in the power of filling up vacancies by 
election. Into the possession of most of these London had 
grown long before the idea was completed or formulated ; 
and it would be difficult to point to any one of its many 
charters by which the full character was conferred. It is 
accordingly regarded as a Corporation by prescription ; and 
in this respect, as in some others, takes its place rather as a 
standard by which the growth of other similar communities 
may be tested than as a model for their imitation in details." * 

It is hardly necessary for me to say that the 
result of my own studies has led me to differ almost 
entirely from these conclusions of the great historian. 
I do not see the earliest stages of London's history 
in an " unorganised aggregation of hereditary 
franchises," but on the contrary I see Londoners 
legislating for themselves in an organised fashion in the 
days of the great /Ethelstan, and I see the hereditary 
franchises encroaching upon the older municipal 
organisation as one of the results of the Norman 
conquest of England and of the domination of London 
and the cities. I do not see the communal stage marked 
as a development from the franchise stage ; but, on 

1 Constitutional History of England, iii. 577. 


the contrary, I see the Londoners taking advantage 
of the weakness of the sovereign power, and forcing 
a weak and criminal prince to recognise the mayor 
and commune. I do not see the necessity for the 
lawyers conception of a corporation as a link in 
London's early history, when there exists the de facto 
corporation in spite of lawyers. For a group of men 
to meet together as the Londoners met in their open 
folkmoot, to there choose their chief representative, 
portreeve, mayor, or whatever title was adopted ; for 
sections of this whole group to meet in their ward 
motes and there choose their aldermen ; for mayor, 
aldermen, and commonalty to impose laws and compel 
obedience thereto, to impose taxation and compel 
payment thereto in scot and lot, to own property 
which was not personally one man's more than another 
— to do all the things which the city records say 
they did ; and at the same time for the state law to 
concern itself not one jot with these things, but with 
matters concerning the holding of the great estates 
and lesser estates by barons and their vassals, with 
matters concerning the Exchequer, with matters con- 
cerning criminal law — with all this before us in 
substance, and in comparison one with another, I 
do not believe that the events of Norman times will 
allow for the origin of London municipal rights and 

The municipal rights and organisation of London 
during Norman times need to be examined apart 
from the influence exercised upon them by the state, 


and I shall briefly do this, first from the sectional 
side and then from the communal side. 

There are, apart from the parishes which are of 
course ecclesiastical in origin, three local divisions of 
the city, the wards, each with its ward mote, the 
precincts, each with its assembly, and the city itself 
with its common hall, where every citizen had the 
right to attend. It is not easy to trace out what 
all these governing elements exactly mean, for the 
records are by no means exact, and they do not 
give any evidence as to origins. I think the precincts 
which have existed from time immemorial, and 
have a very curious history yet to be written, may 
be the last relics of the sokes obtained within the 
city by the Normans ; and I think the wards whose 
origin is equally obscure may — on the evidence of their 
boundaries being coincident with Roman boundaries — 
be the last relics of the Roman system of govern- 
ment. They were Englished by being granted motes 
and by being organised into administrative units. In 
the common hall I think we see the last develop- 
ment of the Anglo-Saxon folkmoot of the city, that 
democratic body which we have seen fighting for its 
existence in Plantagenet times, and which, deprived of 
its open-air assembly, continued in its democratic form 
as common hall. It is not a little curious that among 
its functions should be that of election of mayor, that 
right claimed by the commune of London from King 
John, together with the election of other municipal 
officers. Shorn as these functions are now, they retain 
sufficient of their ancient form to allow us to look back 
upon the common hall as having taken its roots in 


the assembly of the Saxon tribesmen, who, entering 
London as citizens, took with them their democratic 
mode of government and set it up alongside of the 
older system, which it could not quite replace. 

The principal features of each of these local 
divisions tend to show their origin. Each ward had 
its ward mote — its assembly. This was a 

" meeting together by summons of all the inhabitants of a 
ward in presence of its head the Alderman, or else his 
deputy, for the correction of defaults, the removal of 
nuisances, and the promotion of the well-being of such 
ward." 1 

Here, then, is evidence sufficient of organised 
government, and that it is a part of the entire 
machinery of the city and not a bundle of inde- 
pendent units is shown by the fact that the aldermen 
held their ward motes " by virtue of warrants by the 
Mayor for the time being." It must, however, be 
admitted that the city wards and their ward motes 
afford important evidence of the ancient city organ- 
isation having been eaten into by opposing forces, 
though not to the entire extent. The ward motes 
elected the scavagers, aleconners, bedel, and other 
officials ; the bedel certified as to the names of such 
hostellers, brewers, bakers, cooks, victuallers, and 
auctioneers as dealt within the ward ; bakers were 
to have their stamps there ; the Alderman sealed the 
measures and weights in the ward, and supervised 
and corrected all defaults and nuisances presented by 
the jurors. This is organisation of a special kind, 
but not of the manorial kind, for it is further shown 

1 Riley, 32. 


to be a part of the city machinery, by the fact that in 
matters of default, when the alderman after " reason- 
ably punishing and chastising " the offender finds him 
still obdurate, he is to report the same to the mayor, 
11 whose duty it is to provide a condign remedy for 
the same." 1 The ultimate authority thus resting 
with the mayor deprives the ward jurisdictions of any 
but subordinate powers, and does not allow their 
origin to date beyond Norman times. It does not 
allow of any parallel being instituted with other 
ward jurisdictions, as, for instance, at York, for the 
York wards were, as we have seen, fully equipped as 
manorial units each with the allotted cultivating lands 
of manors. The London wards fall short of this, and 
present us with no feature which cannot be accounted 
for by the facts of their Norman history. 

Turning from the wards to the sokes within 
the city, we find them to be entirely Norman in 
origin. I see no evidence whatever of their existence 
earlier. Mr Cootes splendid analysis of the Portsocn, 
the " English cnichtengeld," which we have already 
seen originated as London's organisation against the 
kinship organisation of the country beyond London, 
shows plainly enough that the soke in this instance 
received its full jurisdiction from a charter of Eadward 
the Confessor. This, of course, does not argue against 
its Norman origin, for the ways of Eadward were feudal. 

Baynard's Castle, on the west, near the river 
(giving name to one of the modern wards of the 
city), Montfichet Castle, a little to the north of 
Baynard, along the western wall, were both bastion 

1 Riley, 35- 


defences erected in the course of the city walls. In 
Norman times they became the property and fortified 
residences of Norman owners. There are also the 
significant names of Bucklersbury, the burgh or 
defended enclosure of the Bokerels ; Aldermanbury, 
the burgh or defended enclosure of the aldermen, 
and Paulsbury, 1 perhaps the soke of the cathedral, 
all of which show the city to have become in Norman 
times, not so much a great city defended by its 
great wall in common for all citizens alike, as a city 
containing within its own area little sub - defences, 
so to speak, necessary for its new life under the 
Normans. But these small areas of jurisdiction did 
not divert the original main stream of municipal 
jurisdiction very far. They were forced upon the 
city, and the city absorbed them in its own grand 
fashion, absorbed them so completely that they 
almost disappear from practical politics soon after 
their creation. The best illustration is, I think, 
Stow's quaint description of Blanch Appleton soke, 

" whereof I read, in the 13th of Edward I., that a lane behind 
the said Blanch Appleton was granted by the king to be 
enclosed and shut up. This Blanch Appleton was a manor 
belonging to Sir Thomas Roos of Hamelake, Knight, the 
7th of Richard II., standing at the north-east corner of Mart 
Lane, so called of a privilege sometime enjoined to keep a 
mart there, long since discontinued and therefore forgotten 
so as nothing remaineth for memory, but the name of Mart 
Lane, and that corruptly termed Mark Lane." 2 

1 This name occurs in Alfred's will printed by Thorpe, Dip. Anglicum, 
520 ; but being connected with the church the question of the Norman 
origin of the sokes is not affected by this earlier reference. 

2 Stow's Survey by Thorns, 57. 


In this one record we have the forced action of 
the king, the establishment of the manor and its 
mart, its decay and its final stage in the corrupted 
form of a place name. 

These little areas in the city of London in the 
twelfth and thirteenth century got to be called manors, 
but none of them possessed the full manorial organisa- 
tion. They had their lords and their courts, but that 
is all. They are, if nominally manors because Norman 
lawyers could not rule them under any other name, 
nothing but islands of jurisdiction carved out of the 
city by Norman lords. They are deductions from 
the city area of complete municipal government, 
but they do not form on their own account other 
units of government. They are rather negations of 
government. Over them, as over the wards, was the 
municipal power, and I agree with Miss Bateson 
not only that the manuscript which she so judiciously 
edits, but that the London records generally 

" yield passages which will serve to show that there has been 
a tendency somewhat unduly to minimise the measure of 
municipal administrative unity in the twelfth century 'shire' 
of London — the London of the sokens — in the days before 
the mayoralty ; in spite of the strength of the sokens of which 
the manuscript has something to tell, it shows us that there 
were signs of a cohesion among the several parts having 
every appearance of high antiquity without any trace of 
connexion with the system of the shire ; the collection, as a 
whole, leaves the impression that the communio quam vocant 
Lo7idoniarum (i 141), as it is styled by William of Malmesbury, 
was not merely a unit in the eyes of the exchequer, that the 
jurisdictional unity of the city organised in folkmoot and 
husting gave something substantial whereon the foundations 
of mayoralty and commune could be laid ; it gives support 


to the belief that nowhere must town jurisdiction be neglected 
as the source of town constitutions." x 

All this is much to the point, and I gladly quote 
it as independent testimony to the conclusion which 
I have come to from other sources, testimony too by 
a witness whose original research is a guarantee of 
the respect which all students must pay to the con- 
clusions drawn therefrom. 


There was also another and more potent element 
in London foreign to municipal life. This is the 
ecclesiastical life. It is very difficult for us to under- 
stand how the mediaeval ecclesiastical system entered 
into the constitutional lives of the people. We have 
seen it at work in the earliest days appropriating the 
territorium of Roman Lundinium ; we have seen it 
as part of the governing authority of the city during 
Saxon times ; we have now to learn of its more direct 
encroachment into citizen rights during mediaeval 

No more than one church in London is mentioned 
in Domesday Book, and that is Allhallows Barking. 
Of course this would be accidental, as London is not 
described in Domesday. According to Stow, Bow 
Church, Cheapside, was built on arches of stone at 
the time of the conquest, and there was also at this 
time a collegiate church at St Martin's. Beyond 
London in the Domesday record is mentioned the 
great minster of Southwark ; the new and fair church 

1 Eng. Hist. Rev. xvii. 481, 


at Bermondsey founded by Alwyn Child, a citizen 
of London ; and of course Westminster, built by 
Eadward the Confessor. 

After the conquest the monastic institutions grew 
very rapidly. Within the city were the great 
religious houses of Austin Friars, founded in 1253; 
the Priory of St Helens, founded 1212, the church 
of which still exists, having escaped the great fire ; 
and the great Cathedral of St Paul's. At the eastern 
extremity by the Tower we have the Church and 
Hospital of St Katherine, the church, a noble building 
of extreme interest, existing down to 1825. A little 
northward stood East Minster, a Cistercian abbey 
founded by Edward III. in 1349. Still further north 
was the Abbey of Clare, which has given its name to 
the Minories, after the Minoresses of St Mary, of the 
Order of St Clare, founded in 1293. J ust within the 
wall at Aldgate was the Priory of Holy Trinity, 
founded by the Empress Matilda for the Canons 
Regular, and now occupied by Duke's Place, so 
called after Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, to 
whom the precinct of the priory descended by 
marriage. St Mary Spital, founded in 1 1 97, was 
a monastic hospital, and gave the name to Spital- 
fields. Close to Bishopsgate was the Priory and 
Hospital of Our Lady of Bethlehem, founded in 1246 
by one of the sheriffs of London, and taken down 
in 1676. To the north-west were the Priories of 
St James and St John, Clerkenwell, founded in 1100, 
and of which the grand south entrance is still standing 
and known as St John's Gate. This gate was erected 
in 1504. St Bartholomew the Great, at Smithfield, 


was founded in n 23, and the choir and transepts of 
the great church still remain ; the Charter House was 
founded in 1371, and the gateway, still standing in 
Charter House Square, is said to be where one of 
the limbs of John Haughton, the last prior, was set 
after he had been beheaded at Tyburn, and his head 
set on London Bridge. On the west was Blackfriars 
Monastery, founded in 1221, an immense establish- 
ment including two churches and surrounded by a 
wall with four gates. Further west, adjoining Bride- 
well Palace, was the Monastery of Whitefriars or 
Carmelites, founded in 1241. On the south was 
St Saviour's Church and Priory, founded in 1106, and 
of which the magnificent church, dating from 1208, 
and in part earlier, is still one of the glories of London. 
A little to the east of this was the ancient house 
belonging to the Priors of Lewis in Tooley Street. 
Down by the water's edge, a little to the east again, 
was another great house belonging to the Abbots 
of Battle. And there was the Home of the Templars, 
of which the round church, one of three in all England, 
still stands as a monument. 1 

These great houses and establishments thus formed 
an immense element in London life. But church 
influence was still greater than is shown even from 
this. No city in England was so full of churches as 
London. There are even to this day one hundred 
and twelve separate parishes within the city walls, 
each parish with a church and separate organisation, 

1 Cf. Morgan, England under the Norman Occupation, 170-173, and 
Ordish, Early London Theatres, 2-5, for the principal sketch I have 
adopted, and the several histories of London for detailed facts. 


and when one traces out on the modern map of London 
how the parish organisation cuts athwart the old 
municipal organisation of the wards, we can under- 
stand somewhat the ever - extending power of this 
great ecclesiastical system. We in this age cannot 
grasp it. Ecclesiasticism has lost its ancient secular 
power, and the parish church is no longer the centre 
of parish government as of parish worship. Almost 
everywhere the parish is coincident with the manor, 
and nowhere is it in direct antagonism to the manor. 
In London, however, it is coincident with no other 
unit — neither with ward nor precinct. Sir Walter 
Besant describes the condition of things before the 
dissolution very graphically, 

" Of London in the thirteenth century there was no street 
without its monastery, its convent garden, its college of priests, 
its canons regular, its friars, its pardoners, its sextons and its 
serving brothers, and this without counting its hundred and 
twenty parish churches, each with its priests, its chantires, 
it fraternities and its churchyards. The church was every- 
where ; it played not only an important part in the daily 
life, but the most important part. Not even the most rigid 
puritan demanded of the world so much of its daily life, and 
so great a share of its revenues as the church of the middle 
ages. . . . Every house was possessed of rich manors and 
broad lands ; every house had its treasury filled with title 
deeds as well as with heaps of gold and silver plate ; every 
house had its church covered with marble monuments, 
adorned with rich shrines, and blazing altars, and painted 
glass, such as we can no longer make." 1 

These great communities were almost independent 
of the city, economically as well as constitutionally, 

1 London , 87, 125. 


and this fact is an important indication of their 
position. They were maintained by a system which 
kept together lands and manors upon ancient lines 
unchanged by the changing times. Every now and 
again there was record taken of possessions and dues 
and duties, and in those relating to St Paul's great 
cathedral we have a remarkable contribution to the 
history of London. St Paul's Cathedral was governed 
by its bishop and its canons. The bishop possessed 
certain manors in his own right, including the great 
manor of Stebenheth or Stepney, which stretched 
from the walls of London almost to the boundaries of 
Essex and of Barnes and Wimbledon on the south- 
west. The canons possessed their manors in common, 
and no less than thirteen of them, namely, Pancras, 
Rugmere, Totenhall, Kentish Town, Islington, 
Newington, Holborn, Portpool, Finsbury, Hoxton, 
Wenlock's Barn, Mora, and Eald Street, are found 
to occupy a belt of land of no inconsiderable breadth 
from the walls of the city of London towards the 
north. London was therefore not only occupied by 
the great religious foundation we have noted, but 
was surrounded by church lands. 

The cathedral consisted of far more than its 
church. On the west side of the street now called 
Godliman Street stood the bakehouse ; it was a 
large building, and its place is still identified by Paul's 
Bakehouse Yard. The brewery probably adjoined it. 
There was a mill for grinding the corn worked by 
horses, and in one document the horse path by the 
mill is mentioned as undergoing repair. 

The manors sent up for use of the cathedral 



certain quantities of wheat, oats, and barley. This 
corn was converted into bread and beer, and each 
of the thirty canons received three loaves per day, 
and the other officers a lesser allowance. The 
brewings of the cathedral took place twice a week, 
and the beer was distributed in proper proportions. 
The business of the mill, the brewery, and the bake- 
house, after taking account of the expenses and 
making the accustomed deliveries of bread and beer 
to all the members of the cathedral in their fixed pro- 
portions, left a profit which was divided amongst the 
canons in residence, and we thus see how the principle 
of common living was carried out to the last stage. 1 

This kind of thing went on with all the great 
religious foundations. Produce poured into London 
from the country manors near enough for the transit 
to be of practical value ; and the monasteries used 
this produce for their upkeep and for the necessities 
of those who depended upon them. 

Then again the religious communities influenced 
events. Apart from the enormous indirect influence 
which these great establishments exercised in London, 
there was also direct influence. We have already 
seen how the bishop of London was considered one 
of the civil governors of the city — he helped to pass 
the citizens' laws under ^thelstan, and to him and to 
the reeve was addressed the first charter of the 
Normans. Moreover, the prior of the Great Priory 
of Holy Trinity without Aldgate " was an Alderman 
of London, to wit of Portsoken Ward." 2 For the 

1 Hale, Domesday of St Paul's, iv., xlviii., li., cxxxii. 
8 Stow, Survey of London, Thorns' edit. 53. 


great Monastery of Blackfriars a piece of London 
was ordered to be taken down. 

Another point of importance was that some of 
these places were sanctuaries whither any criminal 
might fly from justice. The history of the sanctuary 
has yet to be written. When it is properly under- 
taken it will be found to be a part of the tribal history 
of the Anglo-Saxons, that part of it which the Church 
took over to itself when, as one of the elements of 
the post- Roman organisation in Britain, it swept into 
the ecclesiastical domain whatever of city life or tribal 
life it could manage to enfold. Sanctuary is a tribal 
institution, and it was centred round the tribal meeting 
place and the chieftain's hall. The Church sided more 
with the cities than with the tribes in its development 
of a polity. It saw tribesmen answerable to the law 
of retaliation and revenge, and it saw in the tribal 
feuds a state of things hostile to the peace of the 
Church. One way of meeting the conditions arising 
out of tribal feuds at a time when state government 
and law could not command the situation, was by 
providing a sanctuary for the harassed and flying 
tribesmen seeking to obtain protection from his enemy, 
and the Church seized upon this merciful method of 
increasing its powers. In tribal times sanctuary was 
the most powerful means of bringing about a state 
of law by which the criminal should be accused and 
heard judicially, in place of the tribal polity under 
which the criminal escaped by the aid of a powerful 
kin, and produced a condition of inter-tribal war, or 
else he became outlaw and fugitive, and suffered a doom 
worse than death. All this the Church accomplished 


for the tribal criminal, and thus led to the bringing 
about of a higher conception of state government. 
Once accomplished, however, it continued its sanctu- 
aries in later times and for unnecessary purposes, and 
this is exemplified by the evidence of the sanctuaries 
of London in Norman times. 

In the case of Blackfriars the sanctuary was kept 
up long after the monastery was dissolved and its 
noble church was destroyed. The mayor on behalf 
of the citizens sought to obtain its abolition shortly 
after the dissolution of the monastery, but the king 
sent him word that he was as well able to maintain 
the liberties of the precinct as ever the Friars were, 
while in 1735 the city corporation brought an action 
in answer to which the privileges of sanctuary were 
pleaded. The sanctuary of Whitefriars was actually 
continued after the dissolution by royal charter, and 
there was gradually formed here a strange community, 
known as Alsatia, of lawless people who defied the 
law until in 1697 the charter was abolished by Act 
of Parliament. The sanctuary of St Martin, now 
occupied by the Post Office buildings, was perhaps 
the most famous. It was a source of perpetual 
trouble to the city, and a set of rules drawn up to 
prevent some of the most flagrant abuses reveals the 
conditions and the safeguards under which the right 
of sanctuary was permitted to continue. 

Allen, from whom I quote these rules, prefaces 
them by the following statement : 

" During the war between the rival houses of York and 
Lancaster, the inhabitants of this precinct were more daring 
and obnoxious than ever to the city ; at last, the conduct 


of the sanctuarymen had arisen to such a height of audacity, 
that the lord mayor and aldermen, putting themselves at 
the head of the citizens, forced the gates, and bore off 
several of the ringleaders. The dean preferred his complaint 
for breach of privilege, as on former occasions, to the king, 
but this time the citizens were directed to keep their prisoners 
until the matter could be more strictly investigated. 1 Soon 
after, these enormities produced the following articles, enacted 
by the king's council, for the better government of the 
sanctuary of St Martin's : 2 

"' Henricus, Dei Gratia, Rex Anglice & Francice, Dominus 
Hybernice : Omnibus ad quos prcesentes Literce perveniunt, 
salutem. Inspeximus Tenorem quendam Ordinationis, 
Concessionis & stabilimenti certorum Articulorum infra 
Sanctua Libera Capellce nostra, St Martini, infra civitatem 
nostram London, observandum & custodiendum, coram 
nobis, & concilio nostro, 5 die Februarii ultimo prceterito 
apud Westmon. in Camera Stellata, ordinatorum & stabili- 
torum, nobis in Cancellar, nostram de mandato nostro 
missum factum, in hcec verba. 
" ' The fifth of Feverer, the yeere of the reigne of our 
Soveraigne lord king Henry VI. thirty-fifth ; at Westminster, 
in the sterrechamber, our said soveraigne lord, calling to 
high remembrance the good and blessed entent that his 
full noble progenitors have at all times had to the honour, 
worship, conservation, and wele of the free chapel of St 
Martin's within the city of London, of the which the king 
our sovereign lord is founder and patron : desiring to do 
all that may serve to the ease and restful roule of the same ; 
and conservation of the sanctuary, immunity, privileges, and 
liberties, as appertain to the said chapel and place ; willing, 
that hereafter none occasion be geven to the breach or hurt- 
ing them : remembering also the great complaints, grudging, 
and displeasure, that his subjects have taken, and especially 
the citizens and commonalty of the said city of London, 

1 Kemp, St Martin's, 146. 

2 Allen, History of London, iii. 46-49. 


of the demeaning of the misruled person coming and abiding 
in the said place, under umbre and colour of the sanctuary- 
there ; the which have at divers times, issued out of the 
sanctuary and committed many ryots, robberies, man- 
slaughters, and other mischiefes ; were through the said 
sanctuary hath been greatly dislaundered, and (over that) 
great inconvenience like to ensue. 

" ' After great deliberation and communication had, as well 
with doctors of divinity as of law, civil and canonicall ; called 
also thereto the judges of this our land, and their advices 
had in that behalfe ; other men also of great wisdome and 
experience, for the weale and conservation of the said 
sanctuary, and to eschew the said misgovernance and 
mischief, called also before our said soveraigne lord and 
his councell, the maior and the aldermen of said city, and 
Master Richard Cawdre, dean of the said place of St Martin's ; 
our soveraigne lord (by the advice of his councell aforesaid) 
ordained, granted, and established certain articles under- 
written, to bee kept and observed within the said sanctuary 
from this time forth, without any interruption of them. 
Willing and ordaining, that the said deane that now is, 
promis by his oath the observance of the same, for the 
time that hee shall bee deane there. And that every deane 
after him, in his admission to the said deanary, be sworne 
to keepe the said articles in semblable wise, and make them 
to bee kept within the said sanctuary ; the which articles 
beene such as follow : 

* ' i. First, that every person fugitive comeing into the 
said sanctuary for tuition, and challenge to enjoy the 
immunities and privileges thereof; at his entrie, as soone 
as hee commodiously and reasonably may, shall now present 
himselfe unto the said deane, his commissaric, or depute 
in that behalfe ; and before him declare the cause of the 
feare moving him to come to the said sanctuarie ; be it 
for treason, felony surmised upon him, or for other causes. 
And that the said declaration and cause bee registered in 
the common register, ordained therefore in the said sanctuary, 
and the name of the said fugitive. 


" ' 2. Item, that hee, at his first entree, present and deliver 
unto the said deane, commissarie, or depute, all manner 
of weapon and armour, that hee bringeth with him, as 
well invasive as defensive ; and that he be not suffered 
to weare or use any such weapon or armour, or it to have 
in his keeping within the sanctuary in any wise, except 
a reasonable knife, to kerve withall his meate, and that 
the said knife be pointlesse. 

"'3. Item, that every erraunt and open theefe, robber, 
murderer, and felon, notoriously noised by the common 
fame of the people ; or if the said deane, commissary or 
depute be credibly informed, or due proofe be geven or 
made, that he is such one, repairing to the said sanctuary, 
to the intent that he shall not (under colour of the said 
sanctuary) intend to doe further mischiefe, find sufficient 
seurte to bee made unto the king, as well by his own 
obligation, as by the obligation of other, of his good bearing 
for the time of his abode within the said sanctuary, and 
for a quarter of a yeere after his departing out of the same : 
and that hee bee kept in ward into the time he have found 
and made the said seurte. And if it so be, that it be 
complained or shewed unto the king's highnesse, that the 
said suerte bee not sufficient ; that then, at the command- 
ment of the said councell (if it bee thought necessary, the 
said deane, commissary, or depute, shall take other and 
better secruete, or else commit them to ward unto the time 
better securete bee found. Foreseene alway, that if the 
said fugitive will depart out of the said sanctuary, that 
hee may do so when hee will. 

" ' 4. Item, That all the out-gates, as well posternes, doores, 
as all other issues outward, whatsoever they be, of the 
said sanctuary, bee surely closed and shut nightly at nine 
of the clocke : and so remaine shut from the same houre 
unto sixe of the clocke in the morning, from the feast of 
Allhallows unto the feast of Candlemasse ; and the remanent 
of the yeere, nightly, from the said houre of nine unto foure 
of the clocke in the morning, or unto the time the first 
masse beginneth within the said place : and that all those 


that been fled to the said sanctuary for treason or felony 
be within the closure on night's time. 

" ' 5. Item, if any such theefe, murderer or felon, resort 
to the said sanctuary for tuition of the same, with any 
manner robbery, or stolen goods, if the party robbed make 
fresh sute therefore, and prove by open evidence, that the 
same felon hath brought into the said sanctuary the said 
goods so stolen thence, the said deane, commissary, or 
depute, shall put in true devoir, withouten any dissimulation, 
fraud, or malengyne, to make full restitution unto the party 
so grieved of the said stolen goods, if they can bee had. 
And semblably, if any fugitive come to the said sanctuary 
with other men's goods, merchandise, or things, intending 
there to live with the same, and the owner of the said 
goods, merchandise, or things, make proofe that they be 
his, and verifie that they be brought into the said sanctuary, 
the said deane, commissarie, or depute, shall put him in 
full devoire, to make restitution to the party so proving 
that the same goods, merchandizes, or things were his. And 
no fugative, nor none dwelling within the said sanctuary, 
shall receive, conceale, nor buy any such goods ; but that 
they bee brought to the said deane, commissary, or depute, 
to the intent that the owners may have the sooner knowledge 
of them. And if the said goods so stolen and brought to 
the said sanctuary be concealed from the said deane, com- 
missary, or depute, and brought by any dwelling in the 
said sanctuary, that then the buyer (abiding there) make 
restitution or satisfaction to the party grieved, proving the 
said goods so stolen to bee his, and so sold in the same 

"'6. Item, if any person, having tuition of the said 
sanctuary, from thence issue out by day or by night, and 
commit or do any robbery, murder, treason, or felony, or 
battery, so done (withouten forth) commit the same misdoer 
to ward, there to remaine as long as he will abide in the 
sanctuary. And if so bee hee will depart from thence, he 
shall depart at an hour to be assigned unto him by day, 
betwixt sunne and sunne. 


" ' 7. Item, that subtle pickers of locks, counterfeitours of 
keys, contrivers of seals, forgers of false evidences, workers 
of counterfeit chaines, beades, brouches, ouches, rings, cups, 
spoons silvered, and plates of copper gilt, uttered for gold, 
unto the common hurt of the people, be not suffered in 
the said sanctuary. And if any, being within the said 
sanctuary, be holden suspect of the things abovesaid, let 
him be committed to ward till he find sufficient surety 
as in the third article abovesaid. 

" ' 8. Item, That common putuers, strumpets, and bawdes, 
be not suspected in the sanctuary : and if they claime the 
tuition of the said sanctuary, that they be set in open ward 
on day times, till shame cause them to depart, or to amend 
their vicious living. 

" ' 9. Item, That deceitful games, as playes at hazard, the 
dice, the guek, the kayelles, the cloysh, and other such unleeful 
and reproveable games, bee not used, supported nor cherished 
within the said sanctuary. 

"'10. Item, That all artificers dwelling within the said 
sanctuary (as well barbours as other) keepe holy the Sundeyes 
and other great festival dayes, without breach, or exercising 
of their craft, in such wise as done the inhabitants of the said 
city of London. And if they doe the contrary, to bee com- 
mitted to ward till they finde sufficient surety, as in the third 
article above said, to use their crafts in manner and forme 
as doe the inhabitants of the said city, and according to the 
ordinances of the same city. 

"' 1 1. Item, That every person coming to the said sanctuary 
for immunity and tuition of the same, that hee, at his 
admission to the said sanctuary, be sworne on a booke to 
obey, keepe, and observe the articles above-said, and every 
each of them, with their pains and rules appertaining to the 
same. And the king, by the advice aforesaid, would, granted, 
and ordained, that this act be exemplified under his great 
seale, and be enrolled in his chancellary ; to the intent, that 
the ordinance above said remaine of record, and that his 
subjects may have knowledge thereof.' " 


There is enough evidence in this document to 
show how the Church and its organisation affected 
citizen life, and to show also that in this form its 
main growth and development was in Norman and 
Plantagenet times. A city honeycombed by the 
Church in this fashion was an altogether different 
city from that which had been compelled to admit the 
Church into its outside territory. 


The gilds form another and most important 

element in the city government and much discussion 

has arisen as to the relationship of gild to mayoral 

government. It is not necessary to traverse the 

whole of this subject. We have seen the uprising of 

the gild organisations as the necessary complement 

to the kinship organisations which existed everywhere 

outside the cities, at all events everywhere outside 

London. But having begun in this way, it did not 

necessarily grow, for the kinship organisation of the 

tribes in the country was breaking down, and the need 

for gildships was passing way. Dr Gross says of the 

^thelstan code that we hear of it for the first and last 

time in the reign of ^Ethelstan. 1 This, however, would 

not dispose of it. It would only indicate its gradual 

passing away. In any case the gild organisation did 

not grow in London as it did in other towns, as it 

did, for instance, in the group of towns with which 

comparison has already been made, with Bristol, 

Gloucester, Leicester, Lincoln, Winchester, Worcester, 

1 Gross, Gild Merchant, i. 179. 


and York. The gilds of these towns are gild 
merchants granted by charter, and Dr Gross has 
noticed the absence of London from the list of such 
grants, and agrees with Norton and with Riley that 
there is no trace in London of its ever having been 
a general merchant gild. 1 The point is important. 
There were gilds as we know connected with particular 
trades, but there was no general merchant gild, and 
the individual gilds did not conflict with the general 
government of the city. 

There is one other phase of London life in 
mediaeval times which must be shortly touched upon, 
though it does not involve more than an indirect 
bearing upon matters of governance. This is the 
congregating of the various industries each in its 
own special centre. Whether this was enforced by 
rule or whether it was brought about by general 
convenience it is difficult to say. It certainly aided 
rather than obstructed the general government of the 
city. FitzStephen, in his celebrated account of the 
reign of Henry II., says that "men of all trades, 
sellers of all sorts of wares, labourers in every work, 
every morning are in their distinct and several places," 2 
and after quoting this passage, Stow, observing that 
" men of trades and sellers of wares in this city have 
oftentimes since changed their places, as they have 
found their best advantage," goes on to note the 
trade quarters of his day. Mercers and haberdashers 
were at Westcheap, goldsmiths were in Gutheron's 
Lane and Old Exchange, peperers and grocers in 

1 Gross, Gild Merchant, i. 20. 

2 Liber Custumarum. i. 6. 


Soper's Lane, drapers in Lombard Street and Corn- 
hill, skinners in St Marie Pellipers or at the Axe, 
stock fishmongers in Thames Street, wet fishmongers 
in Knightrider Street, ironmongers in Ironmonger's 
Lane and Old Jury, vintners in Vinetree, butchers 
in Eastcheap, St Nicholas Shambles, and the Stockes 
Market, hosiers in Hosier's Lane near unto Smith- 
field, shoemakers and curryers in Cordwayner Street, 
founders in Lothberie, cooks or pastelars in Thames 
Street, poulterers in Poultry, bowyers in Bowyer's 
Row by Ludgate, stationers in Paternoster Row, 
pattern-makers in Pattens Lane, basket-makers, and 
wiredrawers in Mark Lane, and the corn market on 
Cornhill. 1 This list indicates one of the features of 
old London which it has in common with other 
mediaeval cities, both in England and on the con- 
tinent, and which may still be traced in street names. 2 


That London was the resort of a great number of 
foreign merchants, leads us to yet another phase of 
city life which makes it understood that one of the 
conditions which the city laws had to meet was the 
settlement of foreigners within its walls, and according 

1 Stow, Survey of London, Thorns' edit. 30-31, 57, 71. 

a As, for instance, in modern Brussels. References are frequently 
made to trade quarters in the poems and songs of later days. Thus in 
Follic's Anatomic, by Henry Hutton (1619), the clothiers of Birchin Lane 
are mentioned (Percy Soc. Publications, vi. 17), so also in Dekker, GulPs 
Hornbooke, 1609, cap. I, and in London Prodigal, 1605, Act I, sc. I. If 
the London of the poets could be recovered by a competent student we 
should gain much knowledge now lost to us. 


to whether these foreigners fell under the jurisdiction 
of the king or of the citizen would the power of the 
city diminish or increase. This, in fact, points to 
another important feature of Norman London, for the 
foreign merchants were in the jurisdiction of the 

They were from early times pressing in to this 
home of commerce and the history of the Hanseatic 
League is an interesting feature of this side of London 
history. Mr J. E. Price thus summarises the main 
features which are of interest to us : 

" So early as the eighth century this commercial con- 
federacy existed. It consisted of various traders from a 
number of the continental towns, who carried on a large 
business in exporting their manufactures to London in ex- 
change for hides, wool, tin, lead and other products of British 
industry. These merchants are first heard of in the reign of 
Ethelred, 979, when the Emperor's men, as they were called, 
upon coming in their ships to Billingsgate, ' were accounted 
worthy of good laws.' The company was a very extensive 
one ; but its most important branch, and the one with which 
we have more particularly to deal, was the ' Easterlings,' who 
had their settlement in London. Their factory and ware- 
houses formerly occupied the Steelyard. Disputes arose with 
the Cologne merchants, who held part of Dowgate, on account 
of the Hanse traders so monopolising English trade. An 
amalgamation was the result, subsequently known as the 
merchants of Almaigne, who possess the house in London 
called the Dutch Guildhall, ' Aula Teutonicorum.' Among 
the Harleian MSS. there occur ' Grauntes of Priviledges by 
Kings of England from Henry III. to Edward IV. to the 
Haunses or the Styllyards, alias Guildhala Teutonicorum? 
In the year 1250, at the special intercession of Richard Earl 
of Cornwall, Henry the Third granted unto Lubecke, one of 
the Almain merchants, privileges for seven years ; and in the 


same reign the sum of 30 marks was paid to the king by 
the citizens of Cologne to have seizin of their Guidhall in 
London. In 1256 he, at the wish of Henricke Duke of 
Brunswick, granted unto Lubecke and others privileges for 
ever. These were afterwards confirmed by his successors 
Edward the First, Second and Third. 

" It is presumed these concessions were an acknowledge- 
ment for services rendered by the Hanseatic vessels in time 
of war. By way of gratitude, the Steelyard merchants agreed 
to keep the Bishopsgate in repair, maintain it, and if necessary 
help to defend it against any foreign enemy. 1 In 1282 the 
gate was in a ruinous condition, and we find the citizens 
calling upon the company to fulfil its promises. The claim 
was rejected, and an appeal made to the Court of Exchequer, 
which resulted in a decision against the merchants, who were 
compelled to repair the said gate : Gerard Merbode, the 
alderman of the Hanse of Almain, with six members of the 
guild, undertaking not only to pay the mayor, Henry le 
Waleys, and citizens, 240 marks towards the outlay, but 
agreeing hereafter to repair it, and bear a portion of the 
charge in money, and supply men to defend it in case of 
need. In consideration of this, additional liberalties were 
conferred : they were for ever to be quit of Murage (the 
charge for repairing the city walls), and facilities were 
accorded them for the sale of corn and other goods." 2 

The subsequent fortunes and misfortunes of this 
foreign trade in London do not concern us. It 
was governed by a few remarkable customs. The 
members were never allowed to sleep away from 
the Steelyard or to keep a housekeeper, and if any 
individual was discovered to have married an English 
woman he was forthwith excommunicated, and I 

1 Composition made between the citizens of London and the 
merchants of the Hanse of Almaine, as to the gate of Bysshopisgate. 
(Liber Albus, 417.) 

2 London and Middlesex Arch. Soc. iii. 1-3. 


cannot help referring back to what has been said as 
to the potent force of the jus conubii in Roman and 
early Saxon times in illustration of this rule. 

The Lorrainer, the men of Huy, Liege, and 
Nivelles, of Tiel, Bremen and Antwerp, the 
Norwegians and the Danes, all had special rights 
or restrictions, which perhaps it is not worth while 
referring to at length. 1 

The exercise of government functions in these 
various ways is enough to push out of sight the 
position of the city as a whole. It was, however, 
by no means inactive or tending * to become so. 
There is plenty of evidence of collective action 
by the government of the city, beyond that which 
belonged to the local centres, the wards and the 
sokes, and the foreign merchants. We have found 
the wards and sokes both subject to the general 
government of the city, and only the ecclesiastical 
sokes, perhaps, independent or claiming independence. 
This is always so with the Church. If, as we have 
had reason to suggest, the Church had much to do 
with the founding of English towns, more to do with 
it perhaps than English monarchs, before English 
monarchs like ^Elfred and his successors had learnt 
the importance of the towns, there is not much to 
be surprised at. But even the Church was not 

1 They may be read in the Liber Cust. i. 61-63, and see Miss 
Rateson's admirable addendum and comment in Eng. Hist. Rev. xvii. 


dominant in London. The city government was 
never split up into pieces, never passed away from 
the city to the several parts of the city, never resided 
elsewhere than with the governing body of the 
city. It is true that the governing body is hard 
to define. Its title even is not limited to one formal 
style. It has the sheriff, the portreeve, the mayor, 
as its principal officer, and there are facts which 
point to the aldermen being the equivalent of those 
judices or lawmen which are found at Chester and 
elsewhere. 1 It has, too, the folkmoot, a living institu- 
tion in the thirteenth century. I have already traced 
out what I make of the origin of these apparently 
different institutions. We have now to see what 
there is to tell of the unity of the city government. 
First of all, we will deal with systems of taxation 
and trade, where the city, perhaps through its chief 
officer, the mayor, but the city as a whole, acted. 
The city collected the customs for the king upon 
all foreign merchandise, and upon wool exported. 
It also levied octroi duties and the following quaint 
regulations obtained : 

" Every load of poultry that is brought by horse shall pay 
three farthings, the franchise [i.e. freemen of the city] 
excepted. Every man who brings cheese or poultry if 
the same amounts to fourpence halfpenny shall pay one 
halfpenny. If a man on foot brings one hundred eggs or 
more he shall give five eggs. If a man or woman brings 
any manner of poultry by horse and lets it touch the ground 
such person shall pay for stallage three farthings. And if a 
man carries it upon his back and places it upon the ground 
he shall pay one halfpenny. Every bushel of bread shall 

1 Miss Bateson, Eng. Hist. Rev. xvii. 488. 


pay one halfpenny per day. Every cart that brings corn 
into the city for sale shall pay one halfpenny ; if it enters 
by way of Holborn or by the Flete it shall pay one penny. A 
cart that brings bread into the city from another town shall 
pay each day one halfpenny or a loaf." x 

These are only examples of the duties levied by 
the city authorities, 2 and which were not authorised 
by the state law, not brought within the charter 
grants, absolutely left to the will and discretion of 
the citizens. 3 

Corn dealers were subject to special regulations, 
and could only sell their produce " within the gate 
of Newgate, before the Friar Minors there, and at 
Graschirche," and there is a remarkable provision as 
to city buyers of corn. 

" Whereas some buyers and brokers of corn do buy corn in 
the city of country folks who bring it to the city to sell and 
give on the bargain being made a penny or halfpenny by 
way of earnest ; and tell the peasants to take the corn to 
their house and there they shall receive their pay. And 
when they come there and think to have their payment 
directly, the buyer says that his wife at his house has gone 
out, and has taken the key of the room so that he cannot get 
at his money ; but that the other must go away and come 

1 Riley, 203-204. 

2 Another example shows a different point of view. " To the mayor 
and sheriffs of London : order to permit the taverners of the city to 
sell their wines for 4d. a gallon until the king's arrival at the next 
parliament in the city, as wines are dear at Bordeaux and elsewhere in 
Gascony and are sold dearly in those parts as the king understands for 
certain." (Close Rolls, 3 Edward, /., 1274, Calendar, 137.) 

3 In other boroughs there existed much more justifiable taxation than 
these octroi duties, and there was actually in Northampton a rule " that 
all the that byen londe tenement or rentis in Northampton shulle geuen 
at every xxs. that the payment, nd. to the profyte of the town." (Liber 
Cust. of Northampton, Markham edit. 36.) 



again soon and receive his pay. And when he comes back a 
second time then the buyer is not to be found ; or else if he 
is found he feigns something else by reason whereof the poor 
men cannot have their pay. And sometimes while the poor 
men are waiting for their pay the buyer causes the corn to 
be wetted and then when they come to ask for their pay they 
are told to wait until such a day as the buyer shall choose to 
name or else to take off a part of the price ; which if they 
will not do they may take their corn and carry it away, a 
thing which they cannot do because it is wetted and in 
another state than it was in when they sold it. And by such 
evil delays on part of the buyer, the poor men lose half of 
their pay in expenses before they are fully settled with — it is 
provided that the person towards whom such knavishness 
shall be committed shall make complaint unto the Mayor ; 
and if he shall be able to make proof and convict the buyer 
before the Mayor of the wrong so done to him, the buyer 
shall pay unto the vender double the value and full damages 
as well in case the Mayor shall see that the value aforesaid 
does not suffice for the damage which he has received ; and 
nevertheless let him also be heavily amerced unto the king 
if he have the means. And if he have not the means of 
paying the penalty aforesaid, or of finding the amercement, 
then he shall be put in the pillory and remain there one hour 
in the day at least, a serjeant of the city standing by the 
side of the pillory with good hue and cry as to the reason 
why he is so punished." 1 

This presents a perfect little picture of mediaeval 
city life and city law. The peasants coming from the 
country ; the knavish merchant ; the whole story, one 
which depicts London in a fashion which our imagina- 
tion can easily extend. What we have most to do 
with, however, is not the picture of life but the evidence 
of the city organisation and law. It is perfect. The 

1 Riley, 229-230. 


city needs no state sovereignty to tell it how to deal 
with such cases. It takes them in hand with perfect 
assurance as to its right of enacting such a law, 
and as to its power to enforce it. It must be noted 
that the pillory is the final sanction to this law to 
be carried out by the city officer and put into force 
by the city government. It must be noted, too, that 
the king comes in for a share of the penalties imposed 
upon the knavish citizen — a last share after all else 
is satisfied, a share which may even at the last have 
to be foregone by the knave being pilloried instead. 
It is not without significance that the state sovereign 
is thus brought within the action of the city legisla- 
tion, and indeed the whole record is full of the 
very greatest significance in the determination of the 
relationship of the city to the state. 

When Fitzalwyn was mayor of London a 
remarkable law was passed, namely, a building law, 
the earliest known building law of London. Its 
provisions are remarkable, and show us as much as 
anything the command which the city as a body 
exercised over individuals — again be it observed 
without the express sanction of the state. I will 
quote some of the most important provisions of this 
code : 

" When it happens that two neighbours shall wish to build 
a wall between them of stone, each of them shall give a foot 
and a half of his own land. 

" If any person shall wish to build a wall of stone and his 
neighbour through poverty cannot, or perchance will not, 
then ought he to give unto him who shall so desire to build 
three feet of his land and the other shall make a wall upon 


that land at his own cost, three feet in thickness. No door- 
way, inlet or outlet, or shop shall be narrowed or restricted 
to the annoyance of a neighbour. 

" When a person has a stone wall of his own sixteen feet 
in height his neighbour must make a gutter under the eaves 
of his house that is situate upon such wall, and receive in 
it the water falling from the said house. 

" A neighbour may not obstruct the view from another's 
windows by building opposite to such windows. 

" Houses shall not be covered with straw or stubble. 

"The penthouses and jettees of houses shall be so high 
that folks on horseback may ride beneath them, and that they 
shall be of the height of nine feet at the very least, and that 
all others shall be forthwith rearranged within forty days 
under a penalty of forty shillings unto the use of the sheriff." l 

These are not the only constructive powers claimed 
by the city government, as the following record will 
show. The king addresses a writ 

" to the mayor and citizens of London — order to permit 
Reginald de Suffolck[ia.], their fellow citizen to re-erect 
certain posts [stapella] outside the gate of his house in the 
city to guard against the danger {propter discrimina\ of carts 
there passing, and to permit him to have the posts when 
re-erected, which posts were lately thrown down to Reginald's 
grievous damage by reason of a presentment made by the 
mayor and citizens last in eyre at the Tower, as the king 
has granted to Reginald for his praiseworthy service to the 
king, that he may re-erect the posts." 2 

There is no doubt as to the power of the mayor 
and citizens to grant this request. If the king claims 
power to make the demand, he makes it through the 
mayor and citizens, and not direct to the grantee. 

1 Riley, 223-225, 237. 

a Close Rolls, 5 Edward /., 1277, Calendar, 384. 


These building laws were rigorously enforced, 
and there exist among the archives of the city and 
of the great foundations several examples of deeds 
for carrying out building operations. One deed 
belonging to the Dean and Chapter of St Paul's 
gives in detail the methods of building twenty houses 
11 between the north door of the capitular bake-house, 
and the south corner of the same, and thence to the 
houses of the Abbey of Peterborough " — a most 
interesting document, dated 7th April, 43 Edward III. 
1369. 1 Another document dated at Guildhall, the 
morrow of All Saints, 1282, is an agreement between 
the city and the cathedral, from which I will quote 
a clause or two to illustrate the organisation of the 
city for legal purposes : 

" Wee the said mayor and citizens with good faythe doe 
promise ... by lawfull stipulation that we shall make or 
cause to be made all maner of drops of water of the said 
shopes (builded aboute the walles of the greate churchyearde 
of the church of St Paule) to be turned away towardes the 
kinges hieway leaste any doe distille into the churchyearde, 
or uppon the walls of the same wheareby the same receave 
hurte or to be made worse, and that we shall nott permite 
butchers, poticaris, gouldsmithes, cookes, or comon women, 
to dwell in the same shopps by which noyse or tumulte or 
dishonestie the quietnes or devotion of the ministers of the 
churche may be troubled, nor also shall suffer those which 
shall dwell in the said shopps to burne any seacooles in the 
same or such other things which doe strike. Moreover at 
our owne charges we shall cause all the coffins of the bodies 
laethye buried in the tombes or hollowe places of the outer 
part of the walle towardes the north to be decentlie buryed 
or put at the leaste in three honest graves under so many 

1 Hist. MSS. Com. ix. 50. 


tombes or hollowe places in the inner side of the same walle, 
and the saide outward tombes or hollowe places to stop up 
with lime and stone ; moreover, we the saide mayor and 
many of the Aldermen of the saide cittie as far as to our 
owne persons dothe aperteayne doe graunte and with good 
fayth doe promise to doe our best indevor with the commons 
of the said cittie that it may be graunted unto the said 
Deane and Chapter, that they may shutt all the gaets of 
the south churche yearde of the church of St Paule every night 
after courphew is ronge so that they shall be opened early 
every day againe, that we shall not sett procure or cause to 
be sett any more shoppes without or beyonde the boundes 
conteyned in the charter or deadde of our lorde the kinge 
for the buildinge of the same shopes made, viz., beyounde the 
gate againste Ivey Laine towardes the west." * 

This is altogether a remarkable document. It 
does things by agreement which it would now require 
an Act of Parliament to do. It governs and decides 
the class of people to occupy shops in the city, 
prevents the use of sea coal, and it removes burial 
places. Finally the mayor and aldermen agree to 
influence the commons of the city in a matter of 
city government, the closing of the gates of the 
churchyard. Altogether it affords much insight into 
the constitutional side of London life. 

The Dean and Chapter of St Paul's were not 
quite innocent of building upon cathedral land ; for 
in a deed, dated 1309, twenty-seven years later than 
this agreement with the mayor, Richard de Newport, 
Archdeacon of Middlesex, writes that 

" the house in which he dwelt and especially the camera 
which is called Rosamunde is affected by the noise of 
men and horses in the neighbouring streets, no less than 

1 Hist. MSS. Com. ix. 51. 


by the mean prospect of the houses on the opposite side 
of the street," 

and the Dean and Chapter grant him 
" licence to build on the space of ground which abuts on the 
king's highway from the chapel of the said house as far as 
the wall of the cemetery of St Benedict, and reaches back 
from the said chamber as far as a certain pear tree and 
certain vines which are not to be included." 1 

Noises of men and horses in the city we can under- 
stand, but pear trees and vines are somewhat strange 
ideas to us now. 

I pass on to some examples of general citizen law, 

"no swine shall be found about the streets or about the 
lanes in the city, or in the suburbs, or in the fosses of the 
said city .... and he who shall wish to feed a pig must 
feed it in his house." 2 

"All the lanes leading towards the Thames from the 
King's highways from Castle Baynard unto the Tower of 
London shall be kept clear that no persons on horseback 
may without hindrance ride and go unto the Thames, and 
if it be not so the sheriffs shall cause the same to be done 
at the cost of those who have caused the impediment, and 
nevertheless let those who thus impede be heavily amerced." 3 

" It is also forbidden that any person shall be so daring 
as to be found going or wandering about the streets of 
the city after curfew rung out at St Martins le Grand and 
St Laurence, or at Berkyngchirche, with sword or buckler 
or with other arms for doing mischief whereof evil suspicion 
may arise, or in any other manner ; unless it be some great 
lord or other substantial person of good reputation, or a 
person of their household who from them shall have warranty, 
and who is going from one to another with light to guide 
him ; and if any one shall be found going about contrary 
to the form aforesaid, if he have no occasion to come so 

1 Hist MSS. Com. ix. 49. 2 Riley, 236. 3 Ibid. 239. 


late in the city he shall be taken by the keepers of the 
place and put into the Tun (a prison on Cornhill) which 
for such misdoers is assigned. And on the morrow he 
shall be arrested and brought before the mayor of the city 
and the aldermen ; and according as they shall find that 
such persons have offended and are thereunto accustomed, 
they shall be punished." 1 

Other regulations of great interest existed. " Two 
loaves shall be made for one penny, and four loaves 
for one penny, and no loaf shall be baked of bran," 
shows that even the price was regulated by the city. 
Bakers were well looked after, 

" and if any default shall be found in the bread of a baker of 
the city the first time let him be drawn upon a hurdle from 
the Guildhall to his own house, through the great streets where 
there be most people assembled and through the great streets 
that are most dirty with the faulty loaf hanging from his 
neck. If a second time he shall be found committing the 
same offence let him be drawn from the Guildhall through 
the great street of Chepe in manner aforesaid to the pillory, 
and let him be put upon the pillory and remain there 
at least one hour in the day. And the third time that 
such default shall be found he shall be drawn and the 
oven shall be pulled down and the baker made to forswear 
the trade within the city for ever." 

And bribes and commissions were not to be given. 
The retailers of bread w T ere females who went from 
house to house, and bakers were forbidden to give 
to such "regratesses " as they were called, 

" the sixpence on Monday morning by way of hansel money 
or the threepence on Friday for curtesy money but after 
the ancient manner let him give thirteen articles of bread 
for twelve," and " let him throw all such outlays into his 
bread for the profit of the people." 2 

1 Riley, 240. 2 Ibid. 231, 232. 


Here is not only good citizen law of mediaeval 
London, but good state law of modern days, if only 
modern state government would bring within its 
cognisance such details of commercial life. And in 
passing it is well to note that even in this law we 
have an allusion to "the ancient manner," as if the 
laws then enacted were based upon customs already 
in force. What all these laws show is a living 
active power in the city for its good governance. No 
need to wait for the sanction of king or parliament ; 
what was necessary for the good of the community 
was done for the community, and in this fact we 
have one of the most important features of the 
municipal life of the Middle Ages. Municipalities, 
and London above them all, were living organisms 
in the body politic, not compressed forms of govern- 
ment bound with restrictions and negatives imposed 
by the state. 

It will not do to multiply examples indefinitely, 
and I therefore turn finally to the city jurisdiction over 
the Thames, which is altogether a remarkable feature 
of mediaeval London government, not due to charters, 
not sanctioned by constitutional state government, but 
derived from ancient right and usage. I will put 
into a footnote a curious and interesting description 
of this jurisdiction without dealing with it further 
here. 1 

1 The opinion of the Attorney-General (Coke) and Solicitor-General 
(Fleming) to Sir Robert Cecil, is preserved among the documents of 
Hatfield House, see Hist. MSS. Com. vii. 300-301, and is as follows : 

"1597, \ July. — We have considered the petition of the Lord 
Mayor of London concerning the right and measurage of coal and 
other things measurable upon the river of Thames coming to the said 


How was all this law enforced? Was it the 
police or magisterial power of the state government 
as Mrs Green has so strongly asserted in her 

city ; also the records and proof following, produced (amongst others) 
on the City's part. 

"First, a verdict of twelve men of Surrey in 42 H. III., before Hugh 
Bigott and Roger of Thirkleby, Justices in Eyre, by which it was found, 
Quod nullis aliquid juris habet in Thamesia usque ad novum gurgitem 
nisi civitas London. 

" Upon controversy between the Lieutenant of the Tower and the City 
concerning arresting of a ship upon the Thames in 46 H. III., before 
William Bassett, Chief Justice of England, and others of the King's 
Council, the river of Thames was allowed to belong to the City usque 
ad newe Were. 

" In 29 Ed. I., the controversy then being for fees for measurage and 
portage of salt, it is found by inquisition and verdict of twelve men, 
Quod nullus mensurarius sit de London usque Lachenlade nisi dicti 
mensurarii et bushelli de Ripa Reginae, that is, of Queen Hive (Hithe). 

" By the records of the City it appeareth, Quod ij° Julii Anno 43 
E. III., Johannes Whirwale, Rogerus Cooke, Henricus Cornewall et 
Galfridus Prudholme electi fuerunt ad standum in officio mensurationis 
carbonum maritimorum venientium ad civitatem London et jurati quod 
bene et fideliter mensuram facerent de carbonibus sic provenientibus, 
capiendo pro labore ipsorum sicut antiquitus consueverunt. 

" In 8 Hen. IV., it was allowed by the King's Council, upon controversy 
concerning removing of kiddels, tanks and other engines in the river of 
Thames and Medway by the City, that the Mayor and Aldermen of 
London ought to have the conservation and correction of the river of 

"Also, we find it proved by divers Acts of Parliament that the City of 
London ought to have the conservation or conservancy of the river of 
Thames, 17 Rich. II. cap. 9, and 4 H. VII. cap. 15, etc. 

" Moreover, in 36 H. VI 1 1., the Lord Mayor and Aldermen exhibited a 
petition to the King's Council, and thereby claimed to have the measure 
of corn, grain, coals, salt and other things upon the river of Thames by 
prescription and ancient allowance, and complained that they were 
disturbed of the same by one William Dowley, who claimed by patent 
from the King to have the measurage of corn, etc., upon the Thames ; 
and upon hearing of the cause it was ordered that the City should 
continue their measurage, and that Dowley should no more meddle 

" Lastly, it appeareth to us that the city hath continually used the said 
privilege, and yet doth to this day. 


interesting studies of town life, 1 or was it the 
magisterial force of the city organisation? The 
question is an important one, for it helps us to 
determine how far city law was independent of state 
government. We have seen that the pillory was 
one great resource, and the pillory was no state 
machine. There was, too, the pound and the ducking 
stool. The city law declared that 

" there be no one who shall make resistance in deed or word 
unto the Serjeants or the bailiffs of the city ; and be it 
ordered that no one shall molest them in making execution 
upon judgments, attachments, distresses or other things 
which unto such bailiffs pertain to do under pain of 
imprisonment ; " 2 

and this undoubtedly implies city government. And, 
finally, when one comes to understand that the 
citizens were "in scot and lot" as it was termed, the 
common organisation of the city has received its final 
touch. "All those who wish by the franchise of 
London to be protected," a most significant clause, 

" shall be residing and dwelling in the said city, commoners 
of the said city, making contributions and aids, such as 

" We also did of ourselves send for divers of the ancients and chief 
men of the Trinity House, who by all probability should best know how 
the possession hereof hath gone, who did una voce acknowledge that the 
City during all the time of their remembrance had used the said privilege 
and still doth use the same. 

" Forasmuch as this case concerned her Majesty we have taken the 
more time and pains in informing ourselves of the state thereof. And 
we are of opinion, that the privilege of measurage, in the said petition 
preferred to her Majesty, doth of right belong to them by prescription, 
and is confirmed to them by divers Acts of Parliament. — From Holborn, 
this 1 2th July 1597." 

1 Mrs Green, Town Life, i. 124. 

2 Riley, 231. 


commoners of the town ought to make ; under pain of 
losing the franchise after forty days from proclamation 
made of whatever condition such person shall be. And he 
who shall not do this, after such forty days shall be ousted 
from the franchise, and shall be dealt with as a foreigner 
for ever after." 

" Shall be dealt with as a foreigner," a sentence which 
means that he is practically without protection. The 
criminal might escape to a sanctuary, but M the 
people of the ward where the church is situate unto 
which such felon has betaken himself keep watch 
upon that felon until such time as he shall have been 
made to quit the realm." 1 This is outlawry, and 
the last resource of the city government was dis- 
franchisement. A man to be disfranchised was to have 
his goods and possessions unprotected, his person in 
danger, his rights and privileges taken away. And 
with this powerful weapon to compel obedience the 
city organisation kept together all the forces which 
helped to make its law obeyed as thoroughly as, 
and more quickly than, the state law itself. If we. 
do not catch sight of the actual organisation of the 
city we see its results ; if the state law never seems 
to recognise the city as an entity, it accepts the 
results of its constant action as an entity. The 
exercise of the law of outlawry was in particular 
remarkable evidence of this. An outlaw from London 
was not in the law of the rest of the country, and 
the rest of the country had its own laws of outlawry 
in full operation. Thus the Eyre Rolls relating to 
Somersetshire for 1242-3 show us that there were 

1 Riley, 244. 


only fifteen persons hanged to upwards of one 
hundred ordered to be outlawed, while forty-five took 
sanctuary and abjured the realm, and this ancient 
law of the shire comes down through the Middle 
Ages to modern times, when John Wilkes was out- 
lawed in the county court of Middlesex, "at the 
Three Tons, in Brook Street, near Holborne, in the 
county of Middlesex." l The legal action of London 
had therefore to be recognised by the state, 2 and 
the legal historian describes it as it obtained in the 
reign of Edward I. in unwonted language: "One 
act of jurisdiction, one supreme and solemn act, 
could be performed only in the county court, and 
in the folk-moot of London — the act of outlawry." 3 
I am sure the importance of such a law, with such 
a history, having appertained to the commons of 
London in folkmoot assembled must be apparent. 
It goes back to the laws of tribesmen before they 
had become identified with special territories, those 
tribesmen of whom so much has already been written 
in these pages. That it was not part of the national 
law and that it was a law of the shires, are the two 

1 Burrow's Reports, 2530. 

2 This is illustrated by the following extract from the Close Rolls : " To 
the mayor and sheriffs of London : order to deliver from prison Richard 
Asshewy, Adam le Taverner, Ivo le Lyngedraper, John de Cumb, 
William de Bixhill, and John de Coventr[ia], whom the mayor and 
sheriffs detain in Newgate for certain trespasses charged upon them, 
and to restore to them all their goods and chattels arrested for this 
cause, if they will swear on the gospels before the mayor and sheriffs 
that they will not stay any longer in the city nor return thither without 
the licence of the king and of the citizens." {Close Rolls, 2 Edward Z, 
1274, Calendar 66.) 

3 Pollock and Maitland, History of English Law, i. 540. Cf. Miss 
Bateson, Borough Customs, 72-73. 


features which show the significance of its position 
as a law of London. London in this respect stands 
on a level with the shires, not with the cities and 
boroughs, and not only does it afford evidence that 
London had a municipal constitution organised upon 
lines not belonging to Norman conceptions of govern- 
ment, but that its special English features grew 
stronger than its surviving Roman features under 
the circumstances of Norman rule. The position, 
indeed, of the London folkmoot in Norman records 
is most interesting, and the appeal back to tribal 
rule for origins is not more remarkable than the 
development from it as city law. I will note but 
a few points in this development. There were three 
chief folkmoots during the year, and they are described 
as follows : 

" At the Michaelmas folkmoot the meeting gathers to know 
who is the sheriff, and to hear the new sheriff's charge. The 
Christmas meeting is for keeping the wards or arranging for 
their watch. The third at Midsummer is to keep the city 
from fire on account of the great drought." 

This shows the folkmoot to be an administrative 
body of some importance, and it is governed by 
most ancient rules. 

" Any Londoner who neglects three folkmoots is in the 
king's forfeiture for forty shillings. But by the law of London 
the sheriff ought to cause enquiry to be made concerning any 
of whom he would know whether he is present. If there be 
any one who is asked for, and not there, he ought to be 
summoned to the husting, and be brought thither by the law 
of the city. If the good man says that he was not summoned 
that is to be known by the beadle of the ward. If the beadle 


says he was summoned at the husting, he shall be attainted 
thereof, for the beadle has no other witness, nor ought to 
have, but the great bell which is wrung for the folkmoot at 
St Paul's,'' 1 

— summoned in this picturesque, and no doubt ancient 
fashion in lieu, perhaps, of a still older fashion by 
the burghmote horn. 2 

Miss Bateson has in this as in other illustrations 
of London government illuminated the records by 
her powers of research. She shows, first, that the 
London interpolator of the laws of Eadward the 
Confessor ordered that the wards should be arranged, 
and careful provision made in the folkmoot against 
fire, and secondly, that these duties of watch and 
protection against fire were devolved upon the 
wardmoots at a later date ; thus proving that 
powers belonging to the folkmoot of Anglo-Saxon 
London were transferred to the wards of Norman 
London. This important fact is in accord with what 
has already been asserted as to the organisation of 
the soke and the ward being the product of ascer- 
tained late times, not the inheritance from early times, 
and it is because Bishop Stubbs failed to observe 
this, that we have his appeal to the bundle of separate 
jurisdictions instead of an appeal to the one single 
jurisdiction of the city in the ancient folkmoot. 

These important conclusions as to the adminis- 
trative rights of the city folkmoot will help us to 

1 Miss Bateson in Eng. Hist. Rev. xvii. 502 ; Liber Aldus, 118-119. 

2 The burghmote horn has already been noted at Canterbury. It 
was also extant at Ripon, and the ceremony is described in Notes and 
Queries, 5th ser. x. 254 ; Bray, Tour in Derbyshire, 276. See also my 
Index of Municipal Offices, 23. 


understand its judicial rights. The husting is an 
integral part of the folkmoot, perhaps it is the folkmoot. 
Mr Maitland will have it that the husting is a house 
thing as distinct from a thing or court held in the open 
air. 1 The open-air meeting of the London folkmoot 
continued as we have already seen, down to the 
thirteenth century, and it is somewhat difficult to trace 
out its connection with the husting, if Mr Maitland's 
definition is correct. I venture to suggest, however, 
that it is not. I think " husthing " is the "thing" 
formed by the housemen of the community, the men 
who owned a homestead, the full members of the 
ancient tribal organisation and Icelandic law should 
tell us this much. 2 That the folkmoot became divided 
into two, as events marched on, is the way I read the 
evidence. Administratively it passed into the Common 
Hall ; judicially it passed into the husting. This kind 
of change seems to be apparent throughout the entire 
history of the primitive assembly as it passsd into 
the local court. Thus in the case of the Manorial 
Court, as Sir Henry Maine pointed out, 

" three courts are usually included which legal theory keeps 
apart, the Court Leet, the Court Baron, and the Customary 
Court of the Manor ; I think there cannot be reasonable 
doubt of the legitimate descent of all three from the assembly 
of the township," 3 

and thus I would put it of the folkmoot in relation- 

1 Domesday and Beyond, 211. This is the Bosworth and Toller 
definition in Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, s.v., but there is no authority given, 
while, for the Hustings Court meeting in the open air, see Mildmay's 
Elections of London, edited by Causton, cxxvii. 

2 See the Glossary to Morris's Saga Library, vi. 464-466. 

3 Maine, Village Communities, 139, and cf. Maitland, Select Pleas of 
Manorial Courts, xvi.-xix. 


ship to the Court of Husting, and the Common 
Hall. There is no legal establishment of the local 
courts, 1 and because the lord succeeds to the fiscal 
profits of the court just as silently as the tenants 
become the suitors of the court, we must not define 
silence in constitutional matters to mean the absence 
of growth from more primitive forms, and we must 
not accept the legal analysis of the local courts as 
indicative of their origin. In the burghs the burgh 
moot was brought into line with the national courts, 2 
but it was custom, and very ancient custom, which 
first established the moot of the burghs, and allows 
of its long continuance. 3 

We are able to see the final stage in the history 
of the folkmoot of London from a document of the 
reign of Edward II. This is a record of complaint 
made before the justices itinerant at the Tower of 
London, 14 Edward II. It relates to the piece of 

1 Cf. Pollock and Maitland, History of English Law, i. 642. 

2 Laws of Edgar, ii. 5 (1) ; iv. 3-6 in Thorpe. 

8 I think it will be interesting to make a note of the last sitting of the 
Court of Husting. It is reported in the Times, 13th March 1901 : "A 
sitting of the Court of Hustings, the first which has taken place for some 
years, was held at the Guildhall yesterday afternoon. The Lord Mayor, 
who was attended by the sword and mace bearers and the City Marshal, 
presided, and there were also present Mr Alderman and Sheriff Vaughan 
Morgan, the Recorder, the Town Clerk, and other high officers of the 
Corporation. There is a Court of Hustings of Pleas of Land, and a 
Court of Hustings of Common Pleas, and they are now held only when 
business requires. The Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and Sheriffs are the 
Judges, and the Recorder sits with them to pronounce the judgments 
of the Court. The City Solicitor (Sir H. H. Crawford), addressing 
the Court, said that the sitting was held for the enrolment of two 
deeds. One of the deeds was dated January 15, 1897, the other July 4, 
1899. The Court directed the deeds to be enrolled. There being 
no other business to be disposed of, the sitting of the Court was 



ground upon which the citizens formerly held their 
folkmoot in the open air, but which was now 
enclosed by the Dean and Chapter of St Paul's. 
The complaint was that 

"the Dean and Chapter of St Paul's had enclosed with a 
mud wall a piece of ground belonging to the King, on which 
the Mayor and commonalty used to hold their court which 
is called Folkmoot, and have also placed a post in the middle 
of the gate of St Augustine which should be open to all. 
The Dean and Chapter produce a charter of Henry I. grant- 
ing to their church and to Richard Bishop of London as 
much of the ditch of his castle by the Thames (Castle 
Baynard) as shall be necessary for making a wall and a 
way outside the wall. They say that Castle Baynard after- 
wards passed into the seisin of Eustace, Count of Boulogne, 
who in 1 106 acknowledged the claims of Maurice Bishop of 
London and they produce letters patent of June 10, 13 
Edward I. Hamo de Chigewell Mayor of London and 
the commonalty declare that the ground on the east side 
of St Paul's where corpses have of late been buried and 
where the great bell tower is situated is the lay fee of the 
king, and that the citizens used of old to hold their court 
called le Folkmoot there and to enter the said bell tower 
in order to ring the great bell to summon the people. They 
also say that a piece of ground on the west of St Paul's 
enclosed by the Dean and Chapter is the place where the 
citizens used to make their congregation with the lord of 
Castle Baynard to have view of their armaments and defence. 
They also say that the space between St Augustine's gate 
and the gate on the west of St Paul's towards Ludgate is the 
king's highway." l 

The whole of this document is of immense interest 
to students of ancient London. The meeting of 
Londoners in their folkmoot summoned by the 

1 Hist. MSS. Com. ix. 49- 


great bell is thoroughly rich in ancient associations 
before the city was under the domination of 
sovereign king. Now it is fallen from its ancient 
state. That this important transaction should have 
taken place just at the period when king's law was 
penetrating into the city as into every rood of English 
territory ; that land upon which the ancient freemen 
of Saxon London met in their old archaic fashion 
in the open air was first seized upon by the Dean 
and Chapter of the cathedral, and enclosed by a 
mud wall, and then in order to enforce the citizens' 
claim was deemed to be " the lay fee of the king," 
are two facts which illustrate the view I have taken 
of this period, that it was an encroachment upon 
an older order of things when English custom and 
Roman rule were standing side by side in London. 
The whole record is pregnant with signs of the new 
order of things, when Edward II., weak, vacillating, and 
bad as he was as a personal monarch, was the centre 
round which all these legal changes were operating. It 
is evident that by the time Edward II. reigned, London 
was becoming well dominated by the state government. 


I have now explained the fact that under the 
Norman government there existed powers and duties 
which were powers and duties of the citizens without 
regard to the outside authority of the state sovereignty. 
The Norman kings said ; " I will that ye be all law- 
worthy," " I will that ye elect a mayor," and so on, 
and by these grants they made ancient citizen law 


to be state law, but the charters did not absorb the 
whole of ancient citizen law. There was a larger 
body of it left, administered by the citizens as they 
would. The state did not touch this large body of 
citizen law, because at that time the state did not 
conceive its business to be to interfere in the citizen 
life of the people. Just as before the great Education 
Act of 1870, the state of our own times did not, to 
its shame, conceive its business to be to regulate the 
education of the people, but left it entirely to what 
I might term the private household law of the people, 
so in Norman and Plantagenet times there was much 
which might be termed the private burghal law of 
the people, and which the state was then incapable 
of considering as a part of state law. 

All this is very technical, I am afraid, and I am 
afraid it differs from the views of our great legal 
historians. Things were so different in the Middle Ages 
that we cannot quite grasp the whole truth with our 
modern ideas unless it is very specially studied. 
There is to be noted one great distinction, however, 
and this distinction is very important to our subject. 
In modern days all that is left untouched by the state 
law remains in the hands of individuals — either in 
the domain of household life or in the domain of 
commercial life. Thus, if the state law of modern 
times leaves untouched the question of the kind of 
house which shall be built upon the green fields of 
our country, it is left to the choice of each house- 
holder to determine. Again, if the state law leaves 
untouched the question of railway construction, it is 
left to the action of individuals to determine. In 


mediaeval times, however, this was not so. What 
the state left untouched was most generally dealt with 
by the local jurisdictions. The negligence of the 
state did not mean action by the individual, but by 
the group of townsmen living their burghal life in a 
fashion dependent in all things outside the charter 
upon their own regulations. This is well illustrated 
by what Dr Cunningham has so aptly termed as "an 
interesting survival of the old municipal mode of 
government," when the Commons prayed that the 
custom of the city of London about usury might 
have statutable force through the realm. 1 Such an 
appeal to the municipal law of London to provide 
the state with a law for the whole kingdom at once 
illustrates and explains the independence of the munici- 
pality within its own sphere. It explains too how 
impossible it was for Norman lawyers, though trained 
for the purpose, to bring about a state sanction for 
municipal doings. So far as charters could avail they 
brought municipal rights within the direct command 
of the sovereign. So far as Norman intrusions into 
the municipal domain could upset or disturb city 
government, they introduced ward administration, 
soke privileges, church rules and conceptions, foreign 
merchant centres and gild organisation. But none 
of these separately, and not all of them combined, 
could destroy the essential unity of the city govern- 
ment, which had come to the city, and was deeply 
embedded in citizen ideal and thought for many 
generations of citizen life, from times which preceded 
the Norman sovereignty. 

1 Cunningham, Growth of English Industry and Commerce^ i. 224. 


Municipal law and usage will be better understood 
if we also have some knowledge of the law which 
was put in force by the state government itself. It 
will not be necessary to go into the question minutely. 
All that is needed is to get a basis for the comparison 
of municipal law and practice with state law. The 
two together make up the legal position of the 
mediaeval citizen, and where state law fails there we 
may be sure municipal law or what is equally forcible, 
municipal custom, steps in. And it steps in by force 
of inherent right, not by legal sanction. Nothing is 
more indicative of the vast amount of municipal law 
and practice which is due to the necessities of the 
community from time to time, and which the munici- 
palities took upon themselves to administer, simply 
because they assumed themselves to be the adminis- 
tering authorities and acted upon the assumption. 
Charters did not place them entirely beneath the 
state. The all embracing charter of the first William 
technically had this effect, but the larger details ef 
the later charters show that the technical point was 
not sufficient to cover the entire position. The 
Norman sovereign desired to be not only theoretically 
supreme, but fundamentally so. But when we come 
to understand what the state law was, how defective 


was the machinery for legislation, and what a con- 
siderable body of local law was already in existence 
when the state assumed full command, it will be 
once more made clear that the municipalities of 
Norman times inherited so much from earlier times 
that it is impossible to grant that we have any right 
to seek for origins from the Norman sovereignty 
and its charter granting powers. In particular is 
this the case with London. The mediaeval city 
legislated for itself under the Norman kings as it had 
done under ^Ethelstan and the Saxon kings. Its 
building law of the eleventh century was just as 
much an inheritance from its customary position as 
a self-governing community as was its commercial 
law in the ninth century. And this was because 
the state law of both periods did not concern itself 
with these things. There is, however, this distinction 
between the two periods. In the earlier case the 
city of London brought itself sharp up against the 
sovereign power, and there was conflict, showing 
London in the position of remarkable independence 
to which attention has already been drawn. In the 
later case the city of London acted without touching 
the sovereign power at all. And this was because 
the state law had not yet penetrated beneath the 
shell of municipal life and did not concern itself with 
the domestic concerns of communities which had 
long known the art of self-governance. 

It is for these reasons that we must endeavour 
to understand the subjects with which state law 
was concerned. Roughly speaking, we may say 
that it dealt with land tenure, with the Exchequer 


rights of the crown, with the administration of 
justice. Look where we will there is very little 
legislation as we know it. The Normans kept 
up the English institutions and allowed the state 
to encroach where it was of service to the state. 
Henry's general charter abolished abuses introduced 
by his brother Rufus, abuses in the matter of reliefs, 
wardships, marriages, murder fines, and so forth, and 
the king required that concessions similar to those 
which he made in favour of his barons should be 
made by them in favour of their tenants. 1 

What is known as the 4< Assize of Clarendon," 
1166, tempore Henry II., is in reality the first piece 
of Norman legislation which materially affects the 
national law. The laws of the Conqueror and of 
Henry I. were almost ostentatiously based upon the 
laws of Eadward the Confessor. The Assize of 
Clarendon brought down the heavy hand of the 
sovereign state upon the hitherto untouched local 
courts. Article 9 of this assize is as follows : 

" And let there be no one within his castle or without his 
castle nor even in the honour of Wallingford, who shall 
forbid the sheriffs to enter into his court or his land 
to take the view of frankpledge ; and let all be under 
pledges ; and let them be sent before the sheriffs under 
free pledge." 

And then follow the clauses which interest us most : 

" And in the cities and burroughs let no one have men or 
receive them in his home or his land or his soc whom he 
will not take in hand to present before the justice if they 
be required ; or let them be in frankpledge. . . . And let 

1 Pollock and Maitland, History of Etiglish Law, i. 72. 


there be none within a city or burrough or castle or without 
it, nor also in the honour of Wallingford who shall forbid 
the sheriffs to enter into their land or soc to take those 
who shall have been charged or published as being robbers 
or murderers or theives, or harbourers of the same or 
outlawed or accused with regard to the forest." 

Clearly all the local jurisdictions were thus brought 
directly under the sovereign state — what had been 
local justice was in future to be kings justice, in 
other words, what was formerly uncontrolled local 
Anglo-Saxon law was in future to be controlled 
English state law. In Clause 19 of the same famous 
code of Henry, II. the institution of itinerant justices 
was provided, and of course it is known that this 
is the system of justice to this day. Let me quote 
the clause. 

" And the lord king wills that from the time when the 
sheriffs shall receive the summonses of the itinerant justices to 
appear before them with their counties, they shall assemble 
their counties and shall seek out all who have come anew into 
their counties since this assize ; and they shall send them 
away under pledge that they will come before the justices 
or they shall keep them in custody until the justices come 
to them and then they shall bring them before the justices." 

It is to be noted that " the lord king wills " all this, 
the formula, as I have before pointed out never used 
before the conquest, and expressing after the conquest 
the sovereignty of the state. 

If we next turn to the great charter itself, the 
Magna Carta, as we all know this famous document 
is called, what are its provisions ? I am sure they 
have not been studied by our historians in the right 


perspective ; I am sure Magna Carta does not mark 
so great an era as many less famous documents. I 
will summarise its provisions: — (i) the English 
Church to be free and have its rights intact and 
its liberties uninfringed ; (2) the heir of any earl or 
baron shall have his inheritance by paying the ancient 
relief to the crown ; (3) the heir not of age shall when 
he comes of age, have his inheritance without relief 
and without fine ; (4) the administrator of the land 
of an heir in ward shall take none but reasonable 
issues from the land ; (5) the administrator of such 
lands to keep the houses, parks, warrens, lakes, mills, 
etc., in order, and to restore to the heir when of age 
his whole land stocked with ploughs and wainages ; 
(6) heirs to be allowed to marry without disparage- 
ment ; (7) a widow to have her marriage portion ; (8) 
no widow to be forced to marry ; (9) revenue not to 
be seized for debt, so loner as the chattels of the 
debtor suffice to pay the debt ; (10) any one borrowing 
from a Jew and dying before the debt is paid, the 
heir shall not be liable for interest so long as he is 
under age; (11) any one dying and owing a debt to 
the Jews, his wife shall have her dower, and shall 
restore nothing of the debt; (12) no scutage or aid 
shall be imposed upon the realm unless by the 
common counsel of the realm 5(13) the city of London 
shall have all its old liberties and free customs as 
well by land as by water, moreover, we will and grant 
that all other cities and boroughs and towns and ports 
shall have their liberties and free customs; (14) 
common counsel of the realm to be summoned for 
a fixed day, after forty days' notice, and for a fixed 


place; (15) no one to take an aid from his freeman; 
(16) no one to do more for the knights service than 
is due from it; (17) common pleas to be held at a 
certain fixed place; (18) two justices to be sent 
through each county four times a year, who with four 
knights chosen by each county shall hold the assizes 
of the county; (19) justices to remain beyond the 
day appointed if necessary ; (20) a freeman not to 
be amerced beyond the measure of his offence; (21) 
earls and barons not to be amerced save through 
their peers ; (22) clerk not to be amerced for his 
lay tenement except according to the manner of other 
persons ; (23) neither a town nor a man to make 
bridges except those who of old and of right ought 
to do it ; (24) no sheriff constable, coroners, or other 
bailiffs to hold pleas of the crown ; (25) all counties 
hundreds, wapentakes and trithings to continue at the 
old farms ; (26) any one dying and owing debt to 
the crown, the sheriff may attach the chattels of the 
dead man to the amount of the debt ; (27) chattels 
of intestates to be distributed to his near relatives ; 
(28) no constable or bailiff to take corn without 
payment ; (29) no knight to pay for castleward if 
he perform that ward in person ; (30) no sheriff or 
bailiff to take the horses or carts of any freeman for 
transports; (31) no wood to be taken for castles 
except by the will of the owner; (32) lands of those 
convicted for a felony to be held no longer than a 
year and a day, when they shall be restored to the 
lords of the fiefs ; (7,7,) all weirs to be done away 
with ; (34) the writ of praecipe not to be served so 
as to cause a freeman to loose his court ; (35) weights 


and measures to be common throughout the whole 
kingdom ; (36) writ of inquest in a matter concerning 
life and limb to be conceded gratis; (37) wardship 
held by holder of fee farm socage or burhage not 
to be held by the crown ; (38) bailiff not to put any 
one to his law without witnesses ; (39) no freeman 
to be taken or imprisoned, etc., without the judgment 
of his peers ; (40) to none will we sell, to none deny 
or delay, right or justice ; (41) merchants to go safely 
and securely in and out of England ; (42) any person 
may go out of the realm, and return to it safely and 
securely except during a time of war ; (43) if any one 
hold from any escheat and shall die, his heir shall not 
perform other service than that in which the baron 
has held ; (44) persons dwelling without the forests not 
to be summoned before the forest justices; (45) no 
one to be made justices, sheriffs, constables, or bailiffs, 
unless they know the law of the land ; (46) barons 
who have founded abbeys shall have their custody 
when vacant; (47) forests constituted "in our time," 
to be straightway annulled ; (48) all evil customs 
concerning forests and warrens to be enquired into 
and eradicated ; (49) all hostages and charters 
"delivered to us by Englishmen as a surety for 
peace or faithful service," to be returned ; (50) we 
shall entirely remove from their bailiwicks the relatives 
of Gerard de Athyes so that they shall have no 
bailiwick in England . . . and the whole following 
of them ; (51) all foreign soldiers to be removed ; (52) 
if any one shall have been disseized without legal 
sentence of his peers from his lands, castles, etc., we 
shall straightway restore them to him ; (53) in the 


matter of showing justice with regard to forests, 
wardships, abbeys, etc., we shall straightway exhibit 
full justice ; (54) no one shall be taken or imprisoned 
on account of the appeal of a woman concerning the 
death of another than her husband ; (55) all fines 
imposed by us unjustly and contrary to the law of 
the land shall be altogether remitted ; (56) if we 
have disseized or dispossessed Welshmen of their 
lands or liberties or other things without legal 
judgment of their peers, they shall be straightway 
restored to them ; (57) with regard to all those things 
of which any one of the Welsh was disseized or dis- 
possessed without legal judgment by King Henry or 
King Richard, respite is to be had ; (58) the sons of 
Llewelin and all the Welsh hostages to be returned ; 
(59) we shall act towards Alexander King of Scots, 
regarding the restoration of his sisters and his 
hostages, as we shall act towards our other barons 
of England; (60) all the subjects of our realm shall 
observe with regard to their vassals, all these afore- 
said customs and liberties, which shall be observed 
in our realm with regard to our own; (61) security 
is given for the carrying out of the charter; (62) 
pardon is. given for all transgressions; (63) subjects 
of the king to be free. 

Now when we have thus closely reminded our- 
selves of the provisions of our great charter, what 
are the impressions they leave upon the mind ? 
The inconsequential arrangement of the clauses, the 
remedial measures for past wrongs, the pitiable 
confessions of the king's monstrous infamy — " to none 
will we sell, to none deny or delay right, or justice " — 


the declaration of freedom ; these are the salient 
points. Of declarations of state law there are very- 
few, and we ascertain that the great charter of 
which we are taught in our schools to be so 
proud is merely a record of the nation's wrongs 
put into the shape of promises of remedy. I confess 
I am not proud of this document. Necessary as 
it was ; great as was the victory gained by the 
barons and the people ; great as was the effect of 
the charter — still I am not proud of this document. 
It tells me too much of a degradation of the nation 
beneath the heel of a tyrant, and not even an able 
tyrant ; it makes too much of concessions which 
never ought to have been needed, and it leaves 
English law in scarcely so favourable a position as 
it was under William the Conqueror and Henry I. 
There is no word of the laws which affect the ordinary 
life and well-being of the people ; there is nothing 
but an enormous gap shown to exist between what 
is demanded as national right and justice from the 
hands of the sovereign monarch, and what was being 
daily administered by the local courts as law and 
justice in every part of the kingdom. I consider 
this gap as very telling evidence in favour of the 
municipal laws which we have already considered. 
There is no point where they overlap ; no point 
where they even touch ; and so it is that we obtain 
the right to assert that municipal laws originated 
with the boroughs, were administered by the borough 
authorities, received their sanction from the forces 
reserved in the hands of the burghers from periods 
of history which were certainly not Norman ; and 


were finally brought within the jurisdiction of the 
state by the assumption of sovereign power to grant 
and annul charters, to take away the franchises and 
administer the affairs of the city by royal officers. 
The whole subject is thus dependent upon two great 
factors in our constitutional history, namely, the 
early origin of the cities and the late development 
of the sovereign state. The early origin of the 
cities is of course exemplified in many ways but in 
nothing more significant than in the borough courts 
of justice — courts with such delightful old names as 
the Hustings Court at London, Tolsey Court at 
Bristol, the Court of Morgen Speech at Ipswich, 
and others. The late development of the sovereign 
state is shown by the very gradual way in which 
the national law overtook municipal law. 

There are, however, aspects of this great charter 
to which it is well to refer more particularly, first the 
position of London towards it, secondly the manner in 
which it was carried out. 

I have already in these pages laid much emphasis 
on the special position which London seems to have 
held in early times as the ally of the sovereign rather 
than a subordinate part of the state, how it was 
left to itself or brought into prominence according 
to the needs of the occasion. The great leaders of 
the movement which led up to the charter took the 
same line. They knew the importance of London 
and they approached it in order to gain its adhesion 
to the movement in a particularly formal manner, 
a manner so formal as to reflect the ancient position 
of London before it was brought into the state 


system of England. This is described quite clearly 
by Mathew Paris. He says that 

"on the feast of St Mary Magdalene (1258) special 
messengers were sent to London on behalf of the community 
of England at large. They there convoked all the citizens 
who were styled barons to meet at the Guildhall, and the 
question was then put to them whether they would faithfully 
acquiesce in the resolution of the barons and adhere firmly 
to their cause, giving them effectual assistance in opposing 
their adversaries. To this they all gave a willing assent, 
and drew up a charter in confirmation of the same and 
sealed it with the common seal of the city." 1 

This is London standing in somewhat its old position, 
acting once more as independent unit of the nation, 
acting in a fashion in which no other city or borough 
acted or could have acted, in which no other city or 
borough was expected to act or called upon to act. 2 

1 Mathew Paris, Chronica Majora. 

2 In my Primitive Folkmoots I pointed out many of the archaic 
features of the great meeting at Staines. 

LON I) 5 \ 


IS* 2 



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. ,, ifrnt. t , ^l.t-n.-J,. • 
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Practically I have now brought our subject down 
to the beginning of the Tudor sovereignty, and also 
to the end of the enquiry in its principal stages. 
What remains is but the detritus of the work which 
the Plantagenet monarchs completed. Bosworth field, 
which saw the death of Richard III., was, like 
Hastings, which saw the death of Harold II., the 
marking point of an historical era. Richard was 
an able monarch, perhaps one of the ablest. His 
career was fettered, according to the best authorities, 
by crime, but I am myself much more inclined to 
believe that the chief cause of his misfortune was 
the change of political circumstances. England had 
up to this period been feudal England. Richard 
was feudai king. The feudal sovereignty had 
strengthened itself by the support of the towns 
against the baronage ; it had fought out its dynastic 
quarrels with all the bitterness of tribal warfare. 
The feudal baronage, after losing much of its strength 
during the strengthening of the monarchy, had 
annihilated itself at Towton, Barnet, and Bosworth. 
The Earl of Warwick and his brother Montagu 
standing in their last ditch at Barnet, the Earl 
killing his horse before his army with all the old 
feudal significance — the whole story, as it is written 
in history, and as it has found its way into legend 
and romance, is full of the drama of an expiring 

2 A 369 


world. The new world was to be different. Com- 
merce was to rule its ways and to govern events. 
Feudal dues were to give way to economical laws. 
Discovery and adventure were to be the passwords 
of the new life. The hero of the old world was 
perhaps Henry V. ; the hero of the new world was 
to be Drake and, later on, Gresham. 

The effect of this change upon the boroughs 
was soon felt. They were no longer necessary 
to protect the manufacturer from molestation and 
destruction, and they depended for their existence 
not so much upon their capacity for defence — 
their walls and gates — as upon their position in 
the European centres of commerce. Accordingly 
we find the older towns falling into decay, "many 
and the most part of the cities, burghs, and towns 
corporate within this realm of England be fallen into 
ruin and decay," are the words of a statute of 
3 Henry VIII. c. 8. These were the towns which 
had depended entirely upon feudal conditions, and, 
feudal conditions ceasing to operate, the usefulness 
of such towns disappeared. Commercialism, and all 
that commercialism meant, was going to change the 
face of England, and particularly in the cities and 
towns would that change be felt. Cities and towns 
that had grown up under a system almost of 
communal trading, town vying with town, gild 
with gild, aliens with natives, but always groups of 
people with groups of people, not individuals with 
individuals, were to give way before the new order 
of things. One can see much more of the old 
boroughs when they were breaking up under the new 


order. Their inner machinery was laid bare before 
it was destroyed, and we can see inside a system 
which, when it was in norma) working order, was only 
visible by its results. Let any one read the famous 
sermon of Bishop Latimer, or the still more famous 
romance of Sir Thomas More, " Utopia," and the main- 
spring of the old condition of things which was then 
passing away is seen to be community of interests, 
not individualism. Latimer and More deplored the 
appearance of competition, the idea of each man 
seeking to be richer than his neighbour, and declared 
it to be contrary to the laws of God and man, for each 
to seek his own profit independently of the profit of 
the community. Latimer and More were in fact 
witnessing the break up of the old burghal life, and 
the commencing of the new commercial life. This old 
burghal life had to go like other things that are not 
of the present, but the going was a horrible process 
to those who could not go with it, or could not help 
in its going. 1 

The decay of the old cities and burghs, repre- 
sentatives of the older national life, was followed by 

1 Cf. Social England, iii. 144. This feeling is reflected in the prayer- 
book of Edward VI., which contains the following remarkable prayer : 

" For Landlords. The earth is thine, O Lord, and all that is contained 
therein ; notwithstanding thou hast given the possession thereof unto the 
children of men, to pass over the time of their short pilgrimage in this 
vale of misery : We heartily pray thee to send thy holy Spirit into the 
hearts of them that possess the grounds, pastures, and dwelling-places of 
the earth, that they, remembering themselves to be thy tenants, may not 
rack and stretch out the rents of their houses and lands, nor yet take 
unreasonable fines and incomes after the manner of covetous worldlings, 
but so let them out to others, that the inhabitants thereof may both be 
able to pay the rents, and also honestly to live, to nourish their families, 


the uprising of an entirely new set. Manchester, 
Birmingham, Sheffield (later), Leeds, Wakefield, and 
others were rising into new-born affluence. They 
sought to keep in their own hands manufactures of 
particular kinds. Thus by Act 21 Henry VIII. c. 12, 
Bridport in Dorsetshire was granted a monopoly for 
"the making of cables, hawsers, ropes, and all other 
tackling," and by 25 Henry VIII. c. 18, Worcester, 
Evesham, Droitwich, Kidderminster, and Broms- 
grove were similarly granted monoplies for manu- 
facturing "all manner of cloths, and exercising 
shearing, fulling, and weaving," while York, by 34 
and 35 Henry VIII. obtained a monopoly in the 
manufacture of coverlets and blanketings. 1 

London's great commercial position soon asserted 
itself. Antwerp had been ruinously sacked in 1567, 
and again in 1585, and Antwerp's ruin was London's 
gain. Many Protestant Flemish merchants and 
manufacturers fled to England, and Sir Thomas 
Gresham promised them peace and welcome. In 
1588 there were thirty-eight Flemish merchants 
established in London, who subscribed five thousand 
pounds towards the defence of England against the 
Spanish Armada. 2 

and to relieve the poor : give them grace also to consider, that they are 
but strangers and pilgrims in this world, having here no dwelling-place, 
but seeking one to come ; that they, remembering the short continuance 
of their life, may be content with that that is sufficient, and not join house 
to house, nor couple land to land, to the impoverishment of others, but 
so behave themselves in letting out their tenements, lands, and pastures, 
that after this life they may be received into everlasting dwelling-places : 
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen." (Two liturgies of Edward Vf., 
Parker Society, vol. xiv. p. 45 8 -) 

1 Gibbins, Industry in England, 239. a Gibbins, op. tit. 230. 


The first settlement of these strangers, however, 
had been at Sandwich, to which town license was 
given in 1561 to receive from twenty to twenty-five 
master workmen with their families and servants, who 
were to exercise there "the facultie of making sacs 
bay, or other cloth, and for fishing in the seas." In 
1565 the mayor and corporation of Norwich asked 
and obtained leave "to have some of these strangers 
in their town where the weaving industry was 
decaying." Southampton and Maidstone petitioned 
to have strangers allotted to them in 1567, and the 
requests were acceded to. Colchester received eleven 
foreign households in 1570; and other settlements 
were at Stanford, Halstead, Yarmouth, Lynn, and 
Dover. 1 

Now these immigrant manufacturers and traders 
formed companies for their mutual protection, and 
this led to the old craft gilds of the English boroughs 
being revived or reorganised under Elizabeth, after 
their destruction by Edward VI. These re- 
organised companies differed from the more ancient 
craft gilds in three ways : ( 1 ) they were directly 
or indirectly authorised by the crown if not by 
Parliament, and they did not derive their authority 
from the municipalities ; (2) they were obliged to 
pay for their patents or charters, and they were 
associations of capitalists rather than craftsmen ; (3) 
so many different callings were amalgamated in the 
new companies that there could be no pretence of 
effective supervision of wares. 2 

1 Cf. Cunningham, Growth of English Industry and Commerce, ii. 36. 

2 Cunningham, op. cit. 47. 


In some few cases the companies were empowered 
by statute to exercise supervision over the quality 
of goods. Thus the wardens of the London haber- 
dashers were to have a right of search in regard to 
the hats and caps which required so much oversight. 
All men living within three miles of the city of 
London and working at leather crafts were to make 
their payment to the London companies, and to be 
under the survey of the wardens. The companies 
of the curriers, saddlers, and shoemakers were 
recognised as the proper authorities for seeing into 
these matters. And when a series of disgraceful 
frauds were discovered on the part of the goldsmiths 
in 1574, the warden and fellowships of the company 
were made liable for any loss that occurred if plate 
which bore their mark were not of the proper touch. 1 

But this favourable reception given to foreign 
artisans in the cities and towns has its reverse side, 
and it illustrates the decay of municipal institutions. 
This picture is represented by a London incident. 
The incident appears to have begun through the action 
of a broker named Lincolne, who induced Dr Bell, 
who was preaching at St Mary Spital on the 
Tuesday in Easter week, 15 17, to read from the 
pulpit a paper in which he had stated "the griefs 
which many found with strangers for taking the 
livings away from artificers and the intercourse with 
merchants." Dr Bell in his sermon explained 

" how this land was given to Englishmen, and as birds defend 
their nests so ought Englishmen to cherish and maintain 
themselves, and to hurt and grieve aliens for respect of their 

1 Cunningham, op. cit. 48. 


commonwealth. By this sermon many a light person took 
courage and openly spoke against strangers, and as unhap 
would there had been diverse evil parts of late played by 
strangers in and about the city of London which kindled 
the people's rancour more furiously against them. The 28th 
April diverse young men of the city picked quarrels to 
certain strangers as they passed by the streets, some they 
did strike and buffeted, and some they threw into the 
channel, wherefore the Mayor sent some of the Englishmen 
to prison. . . . Then suddenly arose a secret rumour and 
no man could tell how it began, that on May Day next, 
the city would slay all the aliens, in so much that diverse 
strangers fled out of the city." 1 

The rumour came to Wolsey's ears, and after 
consulting with him the city authorities ordained 
that every man should shut his doors and keep 
his servants within from nine at night till nine in 
the morning. This was proclaimed, but not very 
generally, and Alderman Sir John Mundie, on his 
way home found two young men in Cheap playing 
"at the bucklers," and a crowd of others looking on. 
He ordered them to desist, and would have sent 
them "to the counter," but the prentices resisted 
the alderman, taking the young men from him, and 
crying "Prentices and clubs." "Then out at every 
door came clubs and other weapons so that the 
alderman was fain to fly. Then more people arose, 
out of every quarter forth came serving-men, water- 
men, courtiers and others," to the number of nine 
hundred or one thousand. They rescued the prisoners 
who had been locked up for mishandling strangers. 

1 Stow, Anna/s, anno 15 17. 


They plundered all the houses within St Martins ; 
near Leadenhall they spoiled diverse Frenchmen, 
who lived in the house of one Mewtas, and if they 
had found this same Mewtas " they would have 
stricken off his head," and they broke up the 
strangers' houses at Blanchapleton and spoiled 
them. 1 

All this shows conflict between the new and the 
old ideas of municipal life — the old ideas that the 
cities were for the citizens who inherited their rights 
and privileges and who acted through their municipal 
organisation, and the new ideas that the cities were 
for the enhancement of trade and industry brought 
about, not by inheritance but by the successful 
carrying out of commercial ideas and rules, and 
which depended not upon municipal organisation 
but upon industrial prowess. Nowhere does it appear 
to me is the change from feudal to commercial times 
more forcibly seen than in the complete alteration of 
the municipal ideal. Norman and mediaeval London, 
it is true, was a change from Anglo-Saxon London, 
but it was a change necessitated by the new develop- 
ment of state power, and was fought against by the 
Londoners until the last. Tudor and later London 
was a further change brought about, not from above 
but from below. The old communal life was dead, 
and its place was taken by a half-hearted municipalism 
which did not fight for its ancient rights because it 
did not believe in them, and which did not take upon 
itself the new and necessary duties because it did 
not desire them. 

1 See Cunningham, op. tit i. 509-511. 


This decay of the municipal ideal is illustrated by 
the interference of the court in the domestic matters 
of the city — an interference which would never have 
been tolerated in the days when the citizens of 
London were fighting for their privileges even within 
the walls of the Tower itself. The city stooped very 
low, but I think the city records show that the crown 
stooped lower still. Letter after letter exists among 
the archives, from the great Queen Elizabeth, from 
the drivelling James I., and from the more dignified 
Charles I., asking that their friends should be appointed 
to city offices. On the 25th May 1580 my Lords 
of the Council, by command of the queen, wrote to 
the Lord Mayor and Aldermen soliciting the grant of 
the office of salt meter or seacoal meter for one 
John Hubbard. On the 30th May, five days later, 
appears a letter from Sir Francis Walsingham to 
the Lord Mayor and Aldermen, requiring the election 
of a water bailiff to be stayed until the queens 
pleasure should be signified to them. On the 9th 
January there is a letter from Lord Burghley, the 
Earl of Leicester, and Sir Francis Walsingham, Lords 
of the Council, to the Lord Mayor and Court of 
Aldermen, requesting the vacant place of attorney in 
the Guildhall might be given to a certain Valentine 
Penson. On the 20th August 1581 Sir Christopher 
Hatton, Vice-Chamberlain to Her Majesty, wrote 
to the Lord Mayor, reminding him of the letter he 
had written to him by command of the queen, 
recommending William Parker for the office of 
alnager, to which no answer had been received. 
Her Majesty desired her letter might be read at 


the next Court of Aldermen and an answer sent forth- 
with. On the 4th September 1581 yet another letter 
was sent on the same subject, and on the 15th of 
the same month the Lord Mayor and Aldermen send 
their reply. And this is the reply ! They say that 
Parker had long since been admitted to the office 
of alnager. Being in difficulties he had requested 
permission to part with his office to a person 
named by him, whereupon the city accepted an 
honest young man, some time' servant to one 
Peter Osborne, who paid to Parker one hundred 
and sixty pounds for the place. Upon receipt of 
other letters from the Lord Treasurer request- 
ing that Parker might be helped with a creditor 
to whom he owed two hundred marks, a lease 
of one of the city's houses had been granted to 
him, valued one hundred marks. Subsequently he 
desired to replace his nominee ; this was agreed to 
upon his paying back the purchase - money, which, 
however, the latter had refused to accept. Being- 
still desirous further to help him, an agreement had 
been made to grant him thirty pounds yearly out of 
the common charge, so long as he should demean 
himself and cease his importunities and not alienate 
the same but keep it to his own use. 

One may well ask if there could be a more shame- 
ful piece of evidence of the decay of the old London 
municipal spirit and practice, or of the depths to 
which the royal court could descend ? And yet I 
think even this can be worsened. The office of 
coal meter, asked for, as I have noted, for one John 
Hubbard, was not granted at the time, and on 


2 1 st March 1576 there is a letter from Sir John 
Langley, Lord Mayor, intimating that the offices of 
coal meter and salt meter were not then vacant, 
and that by the laws of the city they could only 
be granted to freemen by birth or servitude ; all 
grants otherwise made would be void. The appoint- 
ments to the offices of measurers were vested in the 
mayor for the time being, and there was no help but 
by the Common Council. He hardly supposed the 
Lord Treasurer would think it meet that they should 
be assembled and Her Majesty's request and name 
publicly used for so small a matter — for so small 
a matter! But Sir John Langley, Lord Mayor of 
the city of London, did not know the court of 
Elizabeth, Queen of England. A letter dated from 
Barne Elms on 20th July 1582 was received from Sir 
Francis Walsingham by the Lord Mayor Aldermen 
and Common Council — the full municipal authority, 
that is to say — reminding them of a previous letter 
to them by command of the Queen requesting a 
coal meter's room for Hubbard. They had promised 
him the next vacancy, notwithstanding which they 
had placed two before him, one of them specially 
recommended by the queen, the other by private 
favour. He was surprised at their want of reverence 
to Her Majesty, and recommended the assembling 
of the Common Council and their taking order for 
displacing of the new coal meter and bestowing it 
upon Hubbard, fearing otherwise that the queen 
would take it offensively, and that they would 
perhaps repent the little care they had had to satisfy 
her request in a matter of so small importance. I 


will quote still one further example, the record of 
which tells its own tale. The Lord Mayor on 
February 1582 wrote to Sir Francis Walsingham, 
acknowledging Her Majesty's letters to the Common 
Council in favour of the appointment of Dr Caesar 
as deputy to Bernard Randolph, common serjeant, 
and that a reversion of the office might be granted 
to him, because through age and infirmities Randolph 
was unable to fulfil his duties. The matter had 
been brought before the Court of Aldermen and 
Common Council, when Mr Randolph had been moved 
to consent to pass over the execution of his office 
by deputation to Dr Caesar. He had in both courts 
delivered openly his answer in tears, declaring his 
desire to remain and to die an officer of the city, and 
his most humble petition that intercession might be 
made for him to Her Majesty not to command him to 
be removed. The Common Council were not desirous 
to make alteration in his case, but to be humble 
petitioners for him to Her Majesty. With regard 
to Dr Caesar, however otherwise he might be qualified 
for the efficient performance of the office, it would 
be necessary that the officer should understand the 
common laws of the realm by which the city cases 
were governed, and not by the civil laws. One 
would think this letter would have settled the matter, 
but not at all, for on the 17th May 1583 Walsingham 
wrote again urging Dr Caesar's claim. 

These examples are perhaps the most prominent, 
but they are not the only ones. There are many such, 
only less significant in detail because they are less 
important in character. Occasionally the city kicks 


and " begs that in respect of their ancient liberty 
of a free election they might be spared from engaging 
themselves beforehand to any man," but the court 
always insists and city liberties are calmly placed on 
one side. Occasionally the court is less exacting, but 
the city gives way, 1 until in Charles II.'s time we 
have the situation summed up by Pepys — "as the 
city is now there is no great honour nor joy to be 
had in being a public officer." 2 

The charters of this period show the same story of 
change which was coming over municipal life. Thus 
Henry VI II.'s second charter is devoted to cancelling 
a patent to Sir William Sidney of the great beam 
and common balance of the city, and declaring that 
the keeping the said beam and weights pertain to 
the city by prescription, and ordering that the weights 
and beams for weighing merchants' commodities be 
in the hands of persons chosen by the mayor and 
commonalty, with power and authority to the mayor, 
commonalty, and citizens to make and assign clerks, 
porters, etc., of the great beam and balance, and 
of the iron beam and of the beam of the steelyard 
and weights, with all the fees and profits thereto 
belonging. Although there are important grants 
during this period, all the charters refer to matters 
connected with the inspection and weighing of 
merchandise. One clause in a charter of Charles I. 
contains the interesting clause that " the citizens for 
the better finding out their respective dwellings might 
hang out signs." 

1 The authority for these statements is to be found in the Remembrancia. 

2 Pepys' Diary^ Sept. 11, 1667, vii. 109. 


During the period of Wolsey's ascendancy under 
Henry VIII., Parliament was virtually non-existent, 
and during times when Parliament was weak or was 
not called together for long periods of time, the centres 
of local government were more important. London 
was ever the milch-cow of the Tudor and Stuart 
sovereigns. When Henry declared for war with 
France, Wolsey in 1525 demanded an amicable loan, 
as it was called, and commissioners were appointed 
in every shire to assess property, and to require that 
" the sixth part of every man's substance should without 
delay be paid, in money or plate, to the king for the 
fortunes of his war." London and all parts of the 
kingdom opposed this scheme, and the commission 
was withdrawn. When the cardinal announced to 
the mayor and corporation the abrogation of the 
commission, he assured them that the king would 
take nothing from them except a benevolence or 
free grant. The mayor and corporation, however, 
resisted this new attempt to obtain money, and one 
of the citizens declared, at the assembly, that by the 
statute of Richard III. no such benevolence could be 
legally demanded. Wolsey retorted that Richard was 
a usurper and murderer ; if so evil a man, how could 
his acts be good? " An't please your grace," was 
the reply, " although he did evil, yet in his time were 
many good acts made, not by him only, but by the 
consent of the body of the whole realm which is the 
Parliament." 1 

Municipal life changed, too, under the conditions 
of the civil war. All England had mustered to fight 

1 Social England, iii. 17. 



the Spaniard under Drake, and the victory over the 
Armada is a matter in which every Englishman can 
take pride — certainly every Londoner, for London's 
contribution was a great one. But at the time of the 
civil war all England was divided between the two 
camps, and the towns took their sides and sent their 
regiments to fight almost with the spirit of old days, 
when towns were political units to be dealt with by 
treaty. Let me relate London's contribution to this 
great episode. As every one knows, London took 
the side of liberty against oppression, fought for 
Hampden and his country against King Charles and 
his clique. For this purpose I will give the figures 
of the London regiments from which Essex took the 
troops which fought so well at Newbury. When 
they mustered in Finsbury field in September 1643, 
their strength was as follows : 




White Regiment 

1 1 20 


1 190 









Green . 




Tower Hamlets . 




Southwark . 








Blue . 


Red . 

. ... 


One regiment was commanded by a baronet from 
Rutlandshire, but most of the others by aldermen. 
The captains were nearly all merchants or large 
shopkeepers. 1 One would like to know more about 
these citizen soldiers led by their aldermen. We 

1 Social England, iv. 236. 


who have gone through the long history of London 
are not quite surprised to hear of them, for we 
remember the gallant Sheriff Ansgar, who fought at 
the head of his Londoners at the battle of Hastings, 
and was carried back through the streets of his beloved 
city wounded and dying, but strong enough yet to do 
duty for the city in the coming struggle with William. 
We know, too, that for the great struggle between 
John and his barons in 1264, the third division of 
the army of the barons was composed of Londoners 
commanded by Nicholas Segrave. 1 We can read for 
ourselves the picturesque mustering of the citizens, 
tempore Henry VIII., in the " comon felde between 
Myle End and Whyte Chapell," the ancient place of 
muster, in order to meet the threatened invasion of 
England at the instance of "the cancard and 
venemous serpent Paule bysshope of Rome." 2 And 
one would like to see continuity in these things, to 
be assured that the soldier citizens of London, who 
fought so gallantly at Newbury, led on by their 
aldermen, were the real successors of the soldier 
citizens of King Harold's days — the successors in 
turn of the soldier citizens of the city which began 
its existence in almost independence of the state. 
The question is a most interesting one, and in the 
military side of the old burghal life, I am inclined 
to think we can trace some of the oldest links with 
the past, which take us back before the period of 
Anglo-Saxon history. 

I have hitherto said nothing about the connection 

1 Mathew Paris, Chronica Majora, sub anno. 

8 This is printed, entire in Archceologia, xxxii. 30-37. 


of the boroughs with Parliament. This has not been 
necessary, because in older London it did not affect 
the municipal position. In Tudor and later times, 
however, it affected municipal institutions very 
materially, and in fact formed one more element 
in their decay. 

I will shortly sketch the early history of borough 
representation. It began, as is well known, in the 
reign of Henry III., when that great man, Simon 
de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, immediately after 
the battle of Lewis in 1264 summoned two knights 
of each shire to a Parliament, and in December of 
the same year summoned another Parliament con- 
sisting of two knights from each shire, and " two 
discreet and lawful representatives from the cities 
and boroughs." 

Two points call for notice here. Parliament ceased 
to be an assembly of all the magnates of the land, 
and became a representative assembly ; cities and 
boroughs, over and above their own internal affairs, 
had to send a representative to Parliament, and thus 
to take part in national matters as well as municipal. 

The change introduced by these two facts was 
enormous. No doubt, at first, it was not felt to its 
full extent. No doubt, as in 1269, the precedent of 
1264 was set aside, and the king proceeded to hold a 
Parliament of the barons who had been in attendance 
at the great court held for the translation of St Eadward 
the Confessor, and the men of the cities and boroughs, 
who were also in attendance, were not included in the 
Parliament. But the event of 1264 was to live on 
for centuries, was indeed in principle never to die out 

2 B 


again. In 1273, at Hilary tide, a great convocation 
of the whole realm was held to take the oath of fealty 
to Edward I., and to maintain the peace of the realm 
" thither came archbishops and bishops, earls and 
barons, abbots and priors, and from each shire 
four knights, and from each city four citizens." 1 The 
preamble of the statute of Westminster of 1275 
declares the assent of archbishops, bishops, abbots, 
priors, earls, barons, " and the community of the land 
thereto summoned." In 1282 the two councils of 
Northampton and York contained four knights of 
each shire, and two representatives of each city and 
borough. In 1283 the Parliament of Shrewsbury 
comprised representatives of twenty - one selected 
towns separately summoned, and two knights of each 
shire, and in 1295 two knights from each shire, two 
citizens from each city, and the two burghers from 
each borough attended the Westminster Parliament. 2 
From this time Parliament was always a repre- 
sentative body, and the cities and boroughs took 
their share in the national work. Of the elections 
of city and borough members we have no details 
relating to the early period except in the case of 
London, and I will give a few notes on these. 3 
In 1296 all the aldermen and four men of each ward 
met on 26th September and chose Stephen Aschewy 
and William Herford to go to the Parliament of 
St Edmunds, and on the 8th of October the "com- 
munitas " was called together, namely, six of the 

1 Stubbs, Const. Hist. ii. 223. 2 Ibid. 

3 Students of this subject should consult a parliamentary return on 
the subject published in 1878. 


best and most discreet men of each ward, by whom 
the election was repeated and probably confirmed. 1 

It is probable that each town elected its members 
according to the custom of each town and not 
according to any general rule. At all events in 
London we find evidence of this. In 1346 an 
ordinance was passed by the city varying the practice 
already described in the election of 1296. In 1375 
another change took place : the elections were to 
be made by the common councilmen, and the common 
councilmen were to be nominated by the trading 
companies. From this date to 15 Edward IV. the 
elections were transacted by a body summoned by 
the Lord Mayor from a number of persons nominated 
for the purpose by the companies, and in 15 Edward 
IV. the franchise was formally transferred to the 
liverymen of the companies, 2 and the liverymen of 
the city of London companies still exercise the 
privilege of voting for members to represent the 
city, an anachronism which is defensible only on 
account of its antiquity. 

This sketch has been necessary to explain the 
more ancient position of the cities and boroughs in 
connection with Parliament. Changes took place ; 
important points arose in London and other places, 
which it would be very interesting to trace out in 
detail. But these relate to mediaeval England, and 
they leave the boroughs practically where they were 
at the beginning. The influence they exerted in 
Parliament was not great ; a tendency to precision 
in mercantile legislation, a somewhat illiberal policy 

1 Stubbs, op. cit. ii. 234. 2 Ibid. op. cit. iii. 424. 


towards the towns who were not privileged, and an 
anxiety to secure local improvements are practically 
all that can be detected. 1 

With the rise of commercialism under the 
Tudors, however, things changed rapidly. The 
towns increased in importance. Many of them who 
in older times had discontinued sending members 
to Parliament now claimed the privilege of doing 
so, and the crown woke up to the importance of 

At this stage begins the decadence of municipal 
institutions. The crown interfered in elections in a 
most shameless fashion, and in the end municipal 
institutions were nearly destroyed. Henry VIII., 
all powerful as he was, got his own nominee, Sir 
Ralph Sadler, returned for Oxford. Sixty - two 
members were added by Elizabeth at different times 
to the representation of towns, as well from places 
which had in earlier times discontinued their franchise 
as from those to which it was first granted, a very large 
proportion of them being petty boroughs evidently 
under the influence of the crown or peerage. 2 There 
is much reason to believe that Edward VI., in erecting 
new boroughs, acted upon the deliberate plan of 
strengthening their influence among the commons. 
Twenty-two boroughs were created or restored in 
this short reign. Mary added fourteen to the number, 
and Elizabeth pursued the same policy. A circular 
letter of Edward VI. remains. It is addressed to 
all the sheriffs, and commands them to give notice 
to the freeholders, citizens, and burgesses within their 

1 Stubbs, op. cit. iii. 559, 589. 2 Hallam, Const. Hist. 193. 


respective counties, " that our pleasure and com- 
mandment is that they shall choose and appoint as 
nigh as they possibly may, men of knowledge and 
experience within the counties, cities, and boroughs," 
but, nevertheless, that when the privy council should 
"recommend men of learning and wisdom in such 
case their directions be regarded and followed." 1 

The whole course of municipal life was now 
changing. Political, not local government, was the 
guiding principle. With the power of electing a 
member of Parliament in their hands the munici- 
palities first parted with the privilege secured to 
them by an act of Henry VI., that only citizens were 
to be elected, and then allowed the crown and its 
ministers to use them for their own purposes. Worse 
was to follow. Under Charles II. the Rye House 
plot was made the pretence for a wholesale crusade 
against the boroughs. The Court of King's Bench 
pronounced that the franchises of the city of London 
were forfeited to the crown. Flushed with this 
great victory, the Government proceeded to attack 
the constitution of other corporations which were 
governed by Whig officers, and which had been in 
the habit of returning Whig members of Parliament. 
Borough after borough was compelled to surrender 
its privileges, and new charters were granted which 
gave the ascendency everywhere to the Tories. 2 

Under James II. the last stage of degradation 
was reached. His attempt to force his "declaration 
of indulgence" upon the kingdom so as to legalise 
the Roman Catholic Church in Great Britain was 

1 Hallam, op. cit 67. 2 Macaulay, History of England, i. 128. 


begun by putting the new charters into force and 
dismissing the borough magistrates. This was done 
without limit. It was by no means clear that the 
king had the power of appointing magistrates, but 
he assumed it. Everywhere, from the Tweed to 
Land's End, Tory functionaries were ejected, and the 
vacant places were filled with Presbyterian Inde- 
pendents and Baptists. In the new charter of the 
city of London the crown had reserved the power 
of displacing the masters, wardens, and assistants of 
all the companies. Accordingly, more than eight 
hundred citizens of the first consideration were turned 
out of office by a single edict. But scarcely had the 
new office-bearers been sworn in than it was discovered 
that they were as unmanageable as their predecessors. 
At Newcastle the crown appointed a Roman Catholic 
mayor and a Puritan alderman. No doubt was enter- 
tained that the municipal body thus remodelled would 
vote an address promising to support the king's 
measures. The address, however, was negatived. 
The mayor went up to London in a fury, and told 
the king that the Dissenters were knaves and rebels, 
and that in the whole corporation the Government 
could not reckon on more than four votes. At 
Reading twenty-four Tory aldermen were dismissed 
and twenty - four new aldermen were appointed. 
Twenty-three of these immediately declared against 
the indulgence, and were dismissed in their turn. In 
the course of a few days the borough of Yarmouth 
was governed by three different sets of magistrates, 
all equally hostile to the court. These are examples 
of what was passing all over the kingdom. The 


Dutch Ambassador informed his Government that 
in many towns the public functionaries had within 
one month been changed twice and even thrice, 
and yet changed in vain. 1 

These events happened in the boroughs which 
had already forfeited their old charters and received 
back new charters containing a right of revocation 
reserved to the crown. Still more violent methods 
were adopted in the remaining boroughs. They 
were commanded to surrender their charters. Judge 
Jefferies, who went the northern circuit in 1684, 
boasted that "he made all the charters like the walls 
of Jericho fall down before him, and that he returned 
laden with surrenders, the spoils of the towns." 2 In 
several towns the right of voting was taken away 
from the commonalty and given to a very small 
number of persons, who were required to bind them- 
selves by oath to support the candidates recommended 
by the Government. At Tewkesbury, for example, 
the franchise was confined to thirteen persons, and 
when many of this number were deemed doubtful the 
court threatened to reduce it to three. Meanwhile 
the great majority of the boroughs firmly refused 
to give up their privileges. Dunstaple, Winchester, 
and Buckingham distinguished themselves by the 
boldness of their opposition. Oxford declined to 
surrender by eighty votes to two. 3 

In the midst of all this London stood idle. 
The power of charter - giving in the hands of an 

1 Macaulay, History of England, ii. 85-86. 
a Chalmers, Local Government, 69. 
3 Macaulay, loc. cit. 


unscrupulous sovereign was now to be seen at its 
height. Norman charters were given in obedience 
to a conception of state government which was at 
the time unknown to London and to other municipal 
towns, but their object was the building up of the 
state, and hence they held their own. Stuart charters 
were for the undoing of the state, and so fallen had 
become the municipal spirit of London that it accepted 
without a murmur this new state of things. " I was 
present," records John Evelyn in his diary (18 June 

"and heard the humble submission and petition of the 
Lord Maior, Sheriffs and Aldermen on behalf of the citty 
of London, on the guo warranto against their charter, 
which they delivered to his Majesty in the Presence 
chamber. It was delivered kneeling and then the King 
and Council went into the Council chamber, the Maior and 
his brethren attending still in the Presence chamber. After 
a short space they were called in and my lord Keeper made 
a speech to them exaggerating the disorderly and riotous 
behaviour in the late election and polling for Papillon and 
Du Bois after the common Hall had been formally dissolved ; 
with other misdemeanours libells on the government etc. ; 
by which they had incurred his Majesty's high displeasure ; 
and that but for their submission and such articles as the 
King should require their obedience to, he would certainly 
enter judgment against them which hitherto he had 
suspended. The things required were as follows : that they 
should neither elect Maior, Sheriff, Alderman, Recorder, 
Common Serjeant, Towne Clerk, Coroner, or Steward of 
Southwark without his Majesty's approbation, and that if 
they presented any his Majesty did not like they should 
proceed in wonted manner to a second choice ; if that was 
disapproved his Majesty to nominate them ; and if within 
three daies they thought good to assent to this all former 


miscarriages should be forgotten. And so they tamely- 
parted with their so ancient privileges after they had dined 
and been treated by the King." 

"After they had dined and been treated by the 
king " ! There is hardly any more pitiable record 
than this in the whole history of London. It is not 
enough to know that when James had convinced 
himself that the country would not stand this odious 
tyranny he restored the charter, and the Chancellor 
was sent in state to carry back the venerable docu- 
ment to Guildhall on 8th October 1688, 1 for it could 
never more be the same charter that it was before, 
after passing through such indignity. The whole 
story of charter grants, which has been investigated 
in these pages, makes this end of it understood in a 
manner which is impossible to the bare record of 
the seventeenth-century historian, however eloquently 
written, for the descent from the high level of con- 
stitutional doctrine to the depths of tyrannous autocracy 
cannot otherwise be shown, and it is these depths 
which tell the story. 

It is not surprising to see London during and 
after this period parting with its ancient municipal 
rights, letting slip all chances it might have had of 
improving them with the changed times, allowing 
itself to fall back municipally without an ideal, 
without even a message from its great past to tell 
the people who were building up a new London 
what the old London had accomplished. 

From this point, indeed, the governance of 

1 Macaulay, History of England, ii. 147. 


London has little or no interest to the student of 
English institutions, and no interest whatever to the 
student of institutions in general. It sins against 
all principles of local government. It disregards the 
doctrine of general utility upon which all government 
must be founded, and the doctrine of the greatest 
good for the greatest number upon which alone 
government by power is justified. It disobeys the 
cardinal rule that representation and taxation should 
go together by collecting taxes and impositions 
beyond its area for the benefit of those within its 
area — the octroi duties collected at its gates down 
to the year 1856 ; the coal and wine duties applied 
to city purposes up to 1861 ; the corn duty applied 
to city purposes up to 1872 ; and the tolls and dues 
levied at its markets to this day, and still applied to 
city purposes only. From this point, too, the place of 
London in English institutions has entirely changed 
its character. The living principle has passed into the 
larger and nobler London which is now working to its 
place, that London which, as the greatest self-governing 
local community in the world, has still to solve the 
problem of its development and ultimate form. 

It is astonishing how these facts are illustrated 
by the older facts of London's history as worked out 
in these pages. London as a city within its ancient 
boundaries and retaining its privileges is a mere 
survival, and a survival, too, not from the best periods 
of its history, from the ideal of Roman Lundinium, 
the efforts of Anglo-Saxon London, not even from 
the charter of William the Conqueror. It is only 
a survival from those dishonoured charters restored 


by the graceless necessities of James II. As a 
survival it takes its place among the bundle of petty- 
jurisdictions by which London was governed up to 
1855, 1 as Sir Benjamin Hall showed, and by which 
it is still attempted to be governed. The description 
of Norman London by Bishop Stubbs, already quoted 
and disproved, would apply almost word for word 
to modern London. The city uses its ancient 
territorium for taxation purposes as far as it is still 
permitted, and much in the same way as it did in 
Roman times. It is encompassed by the community 
which has grown up around it, and from which it 
separates itself as it did of old when Anglo-Saxon 
life first began to make itself felt. It clings to old 
customs and old ceremonial as the mediaeval city 
did, in order to keep out new ideas and conceptions 
which it holds to be inimical to its interests. At 
every point the position of London as a survival of 
ancient English institutions is illustrated best by the 
use of the historical terminology to which readers 
of this study have now been accustomed. In one 
respect this condition shows the great force of 
historical origins in fashioning the future of institu- 
tions. In another respect it shows the weakness 
of the forces of social evolution, and the length of 
time it takes to change from the old to the new. 
In both respects we are brought to the last word 
on the governance of London and its place among 
English institutions. 

1 I have summarised the facts which illustrate this important aspect 
of modern London in my small volume on London 1837-18Q7. 


If I attempt a rough summary of what I hope may be 
accepted as a fair effort to ascertain the place which 
London occupies among English institutions, I must 
commence by pointing out that the argument for the 
view adopted has been continuous throughout, and 
has never once had to be deflected. What was true 
of Anglo-Saxon London was true of Norman London 
and of Plantagenet London. Wherever we have 
paused for facts or for illustration, we have been 
obliged to turn back to Roman London for the key 
to the position. Wherever we have sought for 
parallels in the domain of comparative history, 
whether in respect of some detail as at Monmouth 
or Cirencester, or in respect of great principles as 
at Exeter and other Roman cities left to Britain, 
we have found confirmation of the views held of the 
London evidence. In the long vista of years through 
which we have to penetrate to arrive at beginnings, 
there is, as it appears to me, no halting-place of any 
kind until Roman London is reached. Tudor and 
later London is so evidently the break - up of a 
system from which had been derived charters that 
Stuart sovereigns so contemptuously confiscated and 
so cynically restored, and municipal offices which 


the Tudor and Stuart sovereigns alike demanded 
for royal nominees, that it needs no effort to refer 
back from it to the more constitutional doings of 
the charter - granting Plantagenets and Normans. 
Plantagenet London is so evidently the home of 
vigorous survivals of city forms of goverment, some 
of which stretch back to Anglo-Saxon times and 
some to Roman times, that the struggles of Norman 
London in resisting sokes and jurisdictions, charters, 
and other legal domination appear only as the 
necessary intermediate position. Norman London 
is so definitely a community resisting new rules and 
ideas, that the step back to older rules and ideas from 
which the new were departures is only a necessary 
obedience to the historic facts. Anglo-Saxon London 
with its disappointing blanks in documentary evidence 
is so clearly an institution not belonging to the Anglo- 
Saxon constitution, that it is necessary to rely upon 
pre-Anglo-Saxon times for the origin of a phenomenon 
so strangely out of keeping with its surroundings. 
In pre-Anglo-Saxon times there are cities in Britain 
left by the Roman government, and British tribes 
governed by tribal laws and custom and having tribal 
organisation as their basis of government, and it 
cannot be doubted from which of these two sources 
came the evident independence of London. There 
is then no stopping place until we reach Roman 
London — decayed, stripped of its magnificence, 
deprived of its wealth and its commerce, almost, 
perhaps, by comparison a ruined city, but a city with 
its system of government still intact, its ideal of 
independence not dead, its continuity of municipal 


organisation never broken, even if at times 

I have stated that I know of no evidence to set 
against this, no evidence in support of Bishop Stubbs' 
conclusion, and certainly no evidence in support of 
Mr Loftie's position as presumably confirmed by 
Mr Freeman. Search where we may, re-examine 
what documents we may, we come back to the same 
general results, and even though some of my details 
may be questioned, the cumulative value of the general 
results cannot, I think, be shaken. It would have 
been easy, and it would have been pleasant, to linger 
over many of the details, to have introduced many 
subsidiary elements in confirmation of some of the 
conclusions suggested ; but I have resisted this on the 
ground that the subject was difficult enough to make 
clear by keeping to the main line of argument, and 
that by overloading the pages with further illustrations, 
I should be endangering whatever features I have 
been able to introduce which tell for clearness. It 
would, for instance, have been interesting to turn to 
the plural form of the Norman name Londoniae, and 
to suggest its derivation as the translation of the 
earlier tribal name Londonienses, by which Londoners 
were always known to the tribal Saxons, for such 
a derivation supports, I think, the evidence for the 
independence of London in the eyes of the Anglo- 
Saxon : it was, as the Mercians were, or as the 
Northumbrians were, a separate unit of the country 
occupied by men in community, and therefore to 
Anglo - Saxons only known by a tribal name, 
Londoners, not London ; the community of persons, 


not the locality occupied. Londonienses is a tribal 
form of name. It was used of Londoners by tribes- 
men, and stood for the tribesmen's idea of inde- 
pendence. No such suggestion has occurred to 
philologists, but I think the conditions allow of it being 
made. Again it would have been useful, perhaps, 
to have classified the whole body of city custom, as it 
has come down to us from Norman documents and 
from the remedies provided by statute law, in order to 
distinguish those items which were definitely Norman, 
so that the residuum might have been considered 
by the same standard as the specially-selected customs 
which have been divided between Roman city lav/ 
and Teutonic tribal rules. This residuum would 
have included such customs as Lord Coke describes 

"that divers cities the cinque ports, boroughs, towns 
corporate, etc., within this realme did claime such a custome 
that if any of one city, society or merchant guild were 
indebted to any of another city, society or merchant guild, 
if any other of the same city, society or merchant guild that 
the debtor was of came into the city society or merchant 
guild whereof the creditor was, that he would charge such 
a foreiner for the debt of the other," 1 

and many others which had to be remedied by 
statute law. Further, it might have been well to 
have extended the enquiry into comparative custom, 
so that Exeter at least should have been included 
among the cities examined in their relationship to 
London. Dorchester, another southern city, which 
furnished a useful parallel to Roman London, and 
some others, — as, for instance, Bath — which have 
continued on Roman sites, deserve further examina- 

1 Coke, Institutes, 1797, 204. 


tion in this respect. But even with what these 
additions may foreshadow, there does not appear 
to me to be any indication of different conclusions 
so far as London is concerned. On the contrary, 
everything points to the correctness of the con- 
clusions arrived at. These conclusions show how 
particularly valuable comparative custom is. We 
find certain details of London municipal life paralleled 
in other cities where definite Roman origin is clearly 
shown. The London and Dorchester "pummeries," 
the London and Cirencester amphitheatres as late 
bear-garden or bull-ring, the London and Monmouth 
continuation of sentiment for the ancient Roman sites 
of their respective cities, the London and Winchester 
territoria dominated or taken possession of by the 
Church, the London and Exeter positions of in- 
dependence before King William — are all items, 
not only of great significance by themselves, but of 
special significance to London, because London 
contains them all, while only a solitary example 
is found in each of the other cities. They are mere 
survivals elsewhere, the sport of circumstances 
keeping alive a single relic. In London they belong 
to a surviving system of which they do not by any 
means constitute the whole. The crash of the Roman 
ruin left here and there a preserved monument 
to compare with the London preserved life. The 
comparative history of English cities needs careful 
attention, and so far as I have penetrated into it, as 
in the case of York and some others, it forms one of 
the most instructive branches of research into the 
origins of the English constitution. 


The pivot point of the whole subject is, of course, 
the interpretation of the facts of Norman London. 
The charters, the sokes and jurisdictions, the folk- 
moot of the city, the ceremonial and legal custom, 
the central and local systems of government, the laws 
of the city which were not state law, the statute law 
which encroached so slowly upon the city law — the 
whole complicated mass of difficulties and contradic- 
tions have awaited explanation, and have not received 
it, because the study of comparative institutions 
has hitherto not been applied to the problem of 
London. If Norman London thus represents the main 
difficulty, it also supplies the one key necessary to 
unravel it, namely, the charters. Any one appreciat- 
ing that William's first charter was an entirely novel 
thing in London government must be led to enquire 
what its significance really was. Considering it first 
by what had gone before, it is obviously an instrument 
of sovereignty ; it must be looked at, not from the 
point of view of those who received it, but from that 
of the monarch who granted it. From the first 
point of view it was absolutely unnecessary. To 
gain knowledge of the second point of view we have 
to compare it with its successors, to find out that 
new charters did not mean new rights or privileges, 
but new grants of existing laws and customs, and 
then the whole subject becomes plain. Charters 
were the means by which London was welded into 
the English state, and the whole period of its pre- 
charter existence stands out clearly as a condition of 
quasi-independence in which the state was very little 

2 c 


This inevitably takes us to the Roman city. 
It must, however, be borne in mind that continuity 
from Roman times has not given us a Roman London 
for all time. The Saxon has been there, and being 
there, he has left his stamp upon the great city. We 
thus avoid the illogical conclusion dear to some 
scholars of to-day, that the presence and continuity 
of Roman civilisation means a Romanised Britain, 
and hence a Roman origin for English institutions. 
This, of course, is Mr Coote's famous theory. It is at 
the back of Mr Seebohm's research into the village 
community system. It appears to be the tendency of 
Mr Haverfield's more recent research. There is no 
evidence to support such a conclusion. The English 
conquest was a veritable conquest, and the manner 
of the English relationship to London is typical of 
the manner in which English institutions were planted 
in the land regardless of what else might be there. 
The English do not mind obstacles. Given a city 
which interfered with them in their settlement, and 
they promptly swept it out of existence, and planted 
their village homes, their cattle stalls, or their food 
grounds on the site, as at Silchester. Given a city 
which did not enter into their field of view one way 
or another, and they contemptuously neglected it, 
handing it over to the Church with all its belong- 
ings, as at Carlisle. Given a city like London, 
which they could not destroy, and they gradually 
settled all round it, using it just when and how they 
pleased, but leaving it outside their own organised 
system of government. There is no sign of Roman- 
ised Britons or Romanised Teutons here. There is, 


however, sure sign, indeed, of a strong and powerful 
system which could settle amidst difficulties, and settle 
in its own fashion undisturbed by any other con- 
sideration. If I have shown Roman London to have 
begun London history, I have not shown that it 
continued it through the ages, and this, if I mistake 
not, is the surest sign that my line of research has 
been the correct one. London is Roman London 
Englished and made fit for its service to the English 
people. The English people are better for the static 
force of London, which helped to make stable the 
unstable tribal conditions of early times, and to direct 
the less plastic forces of feudal times. It stood firm 
to its old ways, long enough to teach firmness to the 
builders of the English state, and its historic record 
as I read it is the greatest that has fallen to any city, 
not even excepting Rome herself. 

The great point is to have given consideration to 
London as an English local institution. Hitherto 
it has been regarded as a storehouse of archaeological 
remains, the living place of great Englishmen, the 
centre of English parliamentary government, the 
greatest commercial community in the world, and 
from many lesser points of view. These, however, 
are only sections of the case. As an institution it 
carries with it so much more of the national life. 
It stands forth as the product of our race in England 
comparable with what Greece and Rome have 
produced, and with what modern civilisation may yet 
produce. The territory called London, the people 
called Londoners, the buildings consecrated to the 
past, all the facts which contribute to its present 


existence, are, when considered separately, so many 
subtractions from London the institution, and it is 
only when we consider it as an institution that we 
begin to learn something of its place in English 
history. The points which have been noticed by 
historians receive fresh illustration from their new 
setting, and there are many points which have 
remained unnoticed by all historians, which turn out 
to be of supreme importance. 

I cannot help thinking that the results attained 
in the present study are due to a large extent to 
a reversal of the usual standpoint adopted by the 
historian. His attitude is that of looking back upon 
his subject, and not only his facts but his terminology 
become tinged by this circumstance. The truer 
method is to endeavour to get at the back of the 
great events and so to look towards the developing 
life, using the terms and the facts suitable to each 
stage. Thus to understand the position of London, 
we have had to reconsider the use of some well-used 
terms. State, army, general, monarch, democracy, 
aristocracy, nobles, etc., belong to Roman civilisa- 
tion, but they do not belong to the Celts and Teutons 
of Britain, and I doubt whether they belong to 
the Celts and Teutons of the continent. 1 Green's 
picturesque pages would have been enhanced if he 
had described the Saxons, who fought so splendidly 

1 I think in particular Mr Holmes' very valuable study of Gallic 
institutions reads much stronger if we substitute for the advanced 
terminology he uses the terminology proper to tribal institutions. — 
Cessans Coftquest of Gaul, see section iv., " social, political and religious," 
515-547; and why does Mr Lang, in his new study of Homer and his Age, 
use the term feudalism to describe Greek institutions ? 


for their English inheritance, and who, after the fight, 
melted away so strangely, as tribal gatherings of the 
host, and not as military forces under a soldier 
general ; the whole course of history would be plainer 
by the use of terms which apply to the condition of 
the period under consideration rather than those of 
the modern historian who is dealing with this 

That London as an institution should stand out 
so greatly by itself is an enormous advantage in the 
cause of research into the history of English institu- 
tions. Whenever students take up the history of 
any one city or borough as an institution, they will 
find the investigation of the history of London 
as an institution to be a necessary beginning. To 
know London properly we have to know constitutional 
matters in relationship to each other, to know how 
city, church, tribe and state stand to each other 
at the earliest period, and at various periods after 
progress has taken place. We have also to know 
details of London which serve as a standard for 
comparison to which other cities and boroughs may 
more or less conform, or from which they may very 
strongly diverge. To understand London thoroughly 
is to know what to look for elsewhere, and to detect 
with comparative ease special points which differentiate 
the cities and boroughs from each other. All cities 
and boroughs which may claim a Roman origin must 
be compared with London, and by contrast all those 
which claim an English or a Celtic origin and develop- 
ment may be compared with London until we get 
an English or Celtic type investigated and decided 


upon. We are not likely to get another London. 
There is no room on English ground for another, 
and its unique position more than anything else, 
perhaps, has produced the importance it possesses as 
an English institution. 

It looks almost as if beginning with the ideal 
derived from the Roman conception of city life we 
had ended with the disappearance of all ideal. But 
this is not quite so, for the history of London does 
not end with the present position of the ancient city. 
There is the new history in the new London — that 
London which is now struggling into existence. As 
the capital of the empire, London is not treated by 
the Imperial Government in quite the same spirit 
as other cities are treated. Its needs are considered 
with something of jealousy and much of suspicion. 
Perhaps this is inevitable because London is the 
capital. But this state of things will pass, and 
whenever the great community which now answers 
to the name of London cares to exert itself in 
claiming rights over her own destiny, those rights 
will be conceded in all essentials. The new ideal 
will be found here. The old ideal, lost and gone 
for ever in the finished history of the old city, will 
give place to the new ideal emanating from the 
pulsation of the men and women who desire London 
to be great in happiness for those who claim it for 
their home. That New York or Berlin is seeking 
to outdo it in physical greatness may not appeal to 
the prosaic common-sense of Englishmen, but there 
is a dormant force in London which desires the 
greatness of London in health and happiness, and 


this once aroused to the full will mean a great 
ideal and a great result. 

In attaining the position it now holds London 
has become one of the monuments of human progress, 
one of the measuring posts by which we can reckon 
up the civilisation of the western world — it is one 
of the institutions by which man has shown his 
capacity for subordinating selfish to common interests. 
It cannot have developed so far without having caused 
great disturbances in the normal growth of the people 
from small beginnings to a great political nation — it 
must have pushed on one side, in its own progress, 
one or more other efforts at development ; it must 
have influenced enormously the trend of national 
life. It is from these points of view — may I say 
these larger points of view ? — this great outlook, that 
I have treated the history of London. I have 
taken up facts in its history, not for the facts 
themselves, but for what they tell us of the story 
of national progress ; I have dug up archaeological 
remains, or documentary remains, not for the purpose 
of asking attention to the remains, as they interest 
us for themselves, but for what they teach us in 
the history of the city and of the state as these 
two institutions appear in British evidence. 


LUNDINIUM (early period). Page 79 

This is drawn from the modern map of London. The area 
enclosed by the red line is the non-burial area alluded to on 
page 78, and the irregular black line is made up from the boundaries 
of the modern wards. The irregularity is remarkable, and is 
undoubtedly very early in origin, indicating the physical conditions 
of the country outside Lundinium. The red line boundary would 
represent the original defence line of the vallum of the earliest 
camp of Lundinium, and the space between the red line and 
the black irregular boundary lines of the wards would represent 
the Pomcerium, which it is significant to note is more extensive on 
the west, where the parish of St Martin Pomroy is situate. 


The walls of mediaeval London are on the foundations of the 
walls of Roman London, and the boundary of the defences of 
Lundinium Augusta is thus clearly indicated. The sites inside 
the city which can be identified with Roman sites are St Pauls, 
Leadenhall, and London Stone and these are indicated on the 
plan. The sites outside the city are the amphitheatre, suggested 
to be at the Bear Garden, Southwark (pp. 94-95), Mile End 
(pp. 104-106), and the Pomcerium suggested to be indicated by 
the modern liberties (pp. 84-86). The limits of the territorium 
north, east, south, and west, are indicated on the map, but Lundinium 
with its territorium is shown on a separate map of a smaller scale. 
It is interesting to add to the evidence in the text as to Mile End 
that there is also a Mile End at Colchester; and as to London 
Stone, from a seventeenth - century chap - book, The Idol of the 



Clownes, or, insurrection of Wat the Tyler, with his fellow Kings 
of the Commons, against the English Church, the King, the Lawes, 
Nobility and Gentry, in the fourth yeare of King Richard the 2nd 
{London, Printed in the year 1654), I have gathered two very 
curious notes. The basis of the book is Walsingham and Froissart's 
Chronicles, but occasionally the author gives opinions and additions 
of his own, whether from tradition or fancy it is not possible to 
say. The curious and significant action of Jack Cade at London 
Stone, already alluded to {ante, p. 151) is by this author told also 
of Wat Tyler. His words are : — 

Then attributing all things to God and His conquering armes, 
and striking his sword (which shewed the present power) on London 
Stone, the Cyclops or Centaur of Kent [Tyler] spake these words : 
From this day all law shall come from Wat Tyler's mouth : the 
supream authority and legislative power were to be and reside in 
him, etc. 

If there is any authority for this it is a curious confirmation 
of the significance of the Jack Cade incident. This old book 
contains another item of interest, which should not be overlooked 
by the student of archaic life. "Tyler was, by I know not what 
ceremony — perhaps like that Irish election by casting an old shoe 
over his head — declared prince of the rabble." 

LUDINIUM AUGUSTA (showing the territorium.) Page 96 

The extent of the territorium is suggested to have been equivalent 
to modern Middlesex on the north and east and an indeterminate 
area on the south limited at its eastern extremity by Crayford 
and extending to Wimbledon and Barnes on the west, Barnes 
being a part of the possessions of St Paul's Cathedral, and, therefore, 
according to the argument advanced on page 106, once a part 
of the Roman territorium absorbed later by the Church. Whether 
the boundaries of parishes or other divisions can be worked out 
for the purpose of more accurately defining the southern boundary 
line of the territorium I do not know, but research in this 
direction is needed. 



Anglo-Saxon London is Roman Lundinium Augusta shorn of 
its territorium and hemmed in by the new Anglo-Saxon settlements. 
The boundaries of the walled city are of course a repetition of 
the previous plans. The settlements around are, first, the Danish 
settlements at Aldwych, described on pp. 191-198, and at Thorney, 
and secondly, the Anglo-Saxon villages and manors described in 
Domesday Book. These are Cambrewelle, Pecheham, Hachesham 
(Hatcham), Clopeham, Lanchei (Lambeth), Waleorde (Walworth), 
Estreham (Streatham), Patricesy (Battersea), Totinges (Tooting), 
Wendelesorde (Wandsworth), Sudwerche, Bermundeseye (South- 
ward), Alteham (Eltham), Cerletone (Charlton), Chenetone 
(Kennington), Grenviz (Greenwich), Hulviz (Woolwich), Lee 
(Lee), Levesham (Lewisham), Plumstede or Plumsstede, Isendone 
(Islington), Tolentone, Fuleham, Cerchede or Chelcede (Chelsea), 
Chenisitum (Kensington), Hamestede, Stebunhithe (Stepney), 
Cantelves or Kennestonne (Kentish Town), Totenhall, Tybourn, 
Stanestaple (Stroud Green). To obtain an external boundary of the 
map I have taken the modern county of London formed by the 
Local Government Act of 1888, and within this area indicated 
the sites of the Domesday villages. They are, for the most 
part, still traceable in modern topography. The boundaries of 
each settlement are not so easily obtained. Perhaps the manor 
and parish boundaries would practically equate with the ancient 
settlement boundaries, and if this were accepted the map could 
be completed on these lines. It will be seen how close up to 
London the Anglo-Saxons came, and this map will illustrate 
forcibly the argument in the text. 

ALDWYCH. Page 181 

The important element in London history represented by the 
settlement of Aldwych has not hitherto been properly indicated. 
In the text I have indicated its southern extension and hinted 
at its northern extension in connection with the recorded settle- 
ment of the Danes on the banks of the Lea. The Tothill Street, 
near Mount Pleasant in Gray's Inn Road, is, I think, a relic of 
this northern extension, representing the Tothill of Aldwych just 


as there was a Tothill at Thorney. The plan is copied from one 
given in Parton's History of St Giles, which was compiled from 
ancient documents, and gives several record names of Aldwych. 


The eastern boundary of Westminster shown in the plan was fixed 
by a decree of the year 1222 ; the western boundary is that accord- 
ing to the Charter of 951. The important point of the altered 
boundary is that it limits the eastern boundary of Westminster 
so as to leave an area between its eastern boundary and the city 
boundary excluded both from the city and from Westminster. 
This area is identified with the facts which have been discussed 
in connection with Aldwych. These limitations differ from the 
boundaries described in a Charter of 951, which apparently 
extended up to the Fleet. There is no means of accounting for 
this difference, but it is clearly due to events which had happened 
subsequent to 951 ; and as the Danish settlements in London 
had become permanent since that date, it is permissable to 
suggest that the independent jurisdiction of the Aldwych area, 
due to Danish influence, had determined the altered eastern 
boundaries of Westminster, and it may perhaps be that the 
limitation on the western side, not shown on the map, was due 
to the Danish influence at Thorney. The whole question is 
discussed in a paper contributed to Archceologia, vol. xxvi., on 
" The Results of an Enquiry concerning the Situation and Extent 
of Westminster at Various Periods," by Mr George Saunders. 


This plan is taken from Rocque's Map of London, 1746. It shows 
very clearly the position of this ancient site, which remained in 
its' natural condition until the beginning of the nineteenth century. 


This is a facsimile of Norden's Map in his Speculum Britannia, 
and shows the existing walls and gates, together with the first 
extensions beyond the walls, and on the south of the Thames. 


Alfred the Great, 7, 114; will of, 
quoted, 213, 315 

/Ethelstan, 65, 120, 129, 132 

Aldermanbury, 315 

postern, 88 

Aldwych settlement, 181-198 

Alectus in London, 48 

Allen's Hist. London, quoted, 324-330 

Allhallow's Church, 88 

Allhallows Staining, 99 

Ammianus Marcellinus, quoted, 4, 87 

Amphitheatre, site of, 94-95 

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, quoted, 4, 97, 
103, 104, 115, 160, 222, 223 

Anglo-Saxon state, 64 

Anglo-Saxon London, y-S, 397, 402 
assembly or foikmoot, 145-149, 349 
355 ; charters not granted, 250 
church organisation in, 68, 161 
cnihtengild, 134; coinage, 117 
criminal redeemed by marriage, 158 
debt, law of, 399 ; drowning, death 
punishment, 156-157 ; grave, oath 
at the, 155-156; Husting's court, 
145, 352, 367 ; independence of, 67, 
1 * 7> 133 ; judicia civitatis Lundonia, 
121-134; King of London, 67 ; land 
laws, 137 ; law (Roman) and Anglo- 
Saxon custom, 135-160; London 
stone, 150-153 ; marriage dower at 
the church door, 158 ; monarchy 
in relation to, 1, 11 5- 1 16; name 
Londonbyrig, 4 ; paganism of, 109- 
113; pillory, 158, 339; state in 
relation to, 1, 7, 8 ; sword carried 
point upwards, 153-154 ; theft, law of, 
122-128; tribal settlements around, 
160-201 ; village tenement. 143-145 

Aristotle, quoted, 15 

Arnold (Mr), quoted, 17, 18, 20 

Arthur, Artorius, 48, 54-58, 200 

Assembly, Danish, at Aldwych, 186 

Assembly or foikmoot, 145-149, 349-355 
Assembly of the tribe, 41 
Assize of Clarendon, 360, 36 1 
Aurelius Ambrosius, 59 

Bateson (Miss), quoted, 104, 141, 

146, i55» 156, 316, 335. 33 6 » 349, 

Bath, 59, 115, 399 
Battersea, 163 
Baynard's Castle, 314 
Bear Garden, Southwark, 95 
Beda, quoted, 50, 59, 61, 62, 64, 68, 

109, 114, 208, 212, 218 
Bell (Great) of St Paul's to summon 

foikmoot, 351 
Benedict of Peterborough, quoted, 

Bethnal Green, 163 
Billingsgate, 80, 152 
Bishops, tribal dioceses of, 68 
Blanchappleton, 315-316 
Blestium, 81 

Boat, Scandinavian, discovered, 183 
Boroughs and cities, 202-229 
Botolph Wharf, 80 
Botontinus (Roman) at Hampstead, 

Boudicca, destruction of London by, 

Bounds, beating the, 225 
Bovey Tracy, 151 
Bretwaldas (Anglo-Saxon), 61 
Bridewell, 294 
Bristol, 214, 222 
Britain, Anglo-Saxon, 64-68 
Roman, 5, 21, 22, 23, 24-27, 33, 


post-Roman, 47-64 

Bucklersbury, 315 
Building law, 339-343 
Burghal lands, 224, 226 




Burghmote horn, 221, 351 
Bush Lane, 79 

Oerleon, 56, 57, 58, 208, 210 

Camberwell, 162 

Cambridge, 212 

Camomile Street, 86 

Cannon Street, 79, 82 

Canterbury, 71, 96, 214, 221 

Capital, London's position as, 2, 9 

Carausius, 52-54 

Carlisle, 213, 402 

Carmarthen, 214, 219 

Castle Street, 90 

Cattle, the pecunia of the tribe, 39 

Celtic law, non-adaptation of Roman 

law into, 33 
Celtic London, 72 ; Lud, 72, 111-113 ; 

name, 4 ; pile dwellings, 72 ; site, 

4, 7, 72 
Chadwick (Mr H. M.), quoted, 103, 

133,203, 217 
Charles II., forfeit of London charters 

by, 389 

Charnock (Dr), quoted, 4 

Charters, 8, 9, 11, 137, 250-277 

Cheney Court of Winchester, 223 

Chester, 154 

Chronology and history, 10- 11 

Church organisation, 228, 335 ; Anglo- 
Saxon, 64; bishops and reeves, 129 ; 
bishoprics, 68 ; conventus, 50, 5 1 ; 
territorium appropriation, 106, 223 ; 
Winchester Cheney Court, 223 

Churches in London, 317, 320 

Cinque Ports, 143 

Cirencester, 95, 208, 211, 400 

Cities and boroughs, 202-229 

Cities, Roman/ 19-21, 23, 24, 34-3 6 » 
49, 5i, 52, 59 

City, misuse of the term, 69 

City state, 12-18, 70-71 

Clofesho, 169, 170 

Cnihtengild, 134 

Codex Diplomatics, quoted, 65, 67, 
99, 156, 168, 213, 221, 222, 252 

Coke's Institutes, quoted, 89, 399 

Coinage (Anglo-Saxon), 4, 1 17 

Colchester, 103, 216-217, 4°? 

Commercial basis of municipal organ- 
isation, 370 

Commercialism of Tudor boroughs, 

Commercii,jus, 30-33 

Common Hall, 312, 353 

Communal life, change from, 371 

Commune of London, 261 

Comparative custom, 11, 400 

Conubii, jus, 27-30 

Coote (Mr H. C), quoted, 20, 21, 32, 

34, 47, 50, 55, 85, 99, 102, 134, 137, 

146,^50, 206, 263 
Corn dealers, regulation for, 337 
Coronation ceremony, 200 

stone, 1 79-181 

Corporation, Roman law of, 33 

by kinship, 38, 39 

Courts of law (local), 367 
Crayford, 96-98, 100 
Criminal redeemed by marriage, 158 
Cripplegate churchyard, 88 
Customs, II, 135-160, 399 

Danes and London, 114- 116, 160, 

173, 181-198 
Debt, law of, 399 
Degradation of municipal life, 371, 376- 

381, 388-395 
Diana worship, 112-113 
Domesday, 165, 205 
Dorchester, 84, 94, 203, 399, 400 
Dowgate, 80, 82, 121 
Drowning, death punishment, 156-157 
Dublin, 152, 187-189 
Dugdale, quoted, 120, 121, 176 

Eadmund, 116 

Ebbgate, 80 

Ecclesiastical life, 317-330 

Edinburgh, 152 

Edward I. and the city, 304-306 

charter of, 264 

Edward II., charter of, 265-266 
Election of kings, 169, 279, 286-288 
Enforcement of city law, 347 
Essex in relation to London, 66, 114 
Evans (Dr Arthur), quoted, 59, 60 
Exeter, 1, 36, 71, 203, 241, 399, 400 

Fenchurch, 84 

Florence of Worcester, quoted, 168, 

182, 234 
Folkestone, 143 
Folkmoot, 145-149, 349-355 
Foreign merchants, 332-335 
Foreigners allotted to the boroughs, 

372, 373 
Fowler (Mr Warde), quoted, 13, 85 
Freeman (Mr), quoted, I, 15, 24, 62, 

114, 116, 149, 208, 216, 217, 235, 

236, 238, 239, 241, 242 
Fulham, 162 

Gaius, quoted, 28, 29 



Geilfine custom of tribal law, 40 
Geoffrey of Monmouth, quoted, 48, 55, 

56, 57, 86, 219 
Gibbon, quoted, 49, 119 
Gilbert (Dr), quoted, 14, 17 
Gildas, quoted, 23, 52, 109, 206, 207 
Gilds, 33 -332, 373 
Giraldus Cambrensis, quoted, 262 
Gloucester, 214, 222 
Government, London not the seat of, 

Grave, oath at the, 155-156 
Greek cities, 12, 14, 15, 17, 70 
Green (Mr J. R.), quoted, 67, 73, 97, 

109, no, 113, 287, 346, 347 
Green (Mrs J. R.), quoted, 225, 347 
Guildhall, 121 

Hales (Prof.), quoted, 102 

Hamburg, 71 

Hammond (Mr), quoted, 13,14 

Hampstead barrow, 100-103 

Hardy (Mr E. G.), quoted, 22 

Harrison (Miss Jane), quoted, 14, 81 

Hastings, 143 

Haverfield(Mr F.), quoted, 23, 25, 37 

Henry of Huntingdon, quoted, 208, 212 

Henry I., charter of, 254-257, 285 

Henry II., charter of, 258 

Henry III., and the city, 301 

charter of, 263 

Henry VI., charters of, 273 

History of London, incompleteness of, 

2 '3 
Honor price, tribal, 42 
Hounsditch, 88 
Howel Dha, laws of, 67 
Human sacrifice, survival in beating 

the hounds, 225 
Hustings, Court of, 145, 352, 367 

Ideal of city life, 12, 405-407 

Idol Lane, 79, 82 

Incorporation, charters of, 267-274 

Institutions, English, place of London 

in, 1-3, 403-404 
of different stages of development, 

not assimilated, 30, 199 

conditions for the study of, 1-71 

Ireland, tribal customs in, 37-44, 134 

James II., action of, towards boroughs, 

390-391 ; towards London, 392-393 
Jenks (Mr), quoted, 268, 269 
John, charter of, 259-260 
Judicia civitatis LundonicE^ 121 -134 

Kemble (J. M.), quoted, 25, 26, 62, 
114, 128, 129, 133, 159, 169, 170, 


Kensington, 162 

Kent in relation to London, 66, 1 14 

King of London, 67 

King, tribes governed by, 39 

Kings, Anglo-Saxon relation to London, 

Anglo-Saxon, titles of, 65 ; crown- 
ing of, 167-169 

King's Bench, Westminster, 174-179 

Kingston, 168-169 

Kinship, the basis of the tribe, 38-39, 

131, 133 

Knightsbridge, 98, 99, 104 
Kovalevsky (Professor), quoted, 5, 41 

Lands, city, 137- 141 
Langbourn ward, 84 
Lambeth, 162 
Lammas lands, 162 
Land laws, 137 

grants by English kings, 213-214 

Law worthy, 252 

Leadenhall Market, 93 

Leicester, 214, 223 

Lincoln, 1, 71, 203, 216, 217-219 

Lombard Street, 79 

London Stone, 83, 86, 150-153, 409 

London Wall, 91 

Lord Mayor, title of, 164 

Lud, 72, 111-113 

Ludgate, 112, 296 

Magna Carta, 361-367 

Maine (Sir H.), quoted, 37, 40, 45, 220, 

226, 283, 352 
Maitland(Prof. F. W.), quoted, 99, 104, 

118, 164, 166, 202, 203, 205, 218, 

221, 227, 352 
Malmesbury, 226-227, 250 
Man, Isle of, 154 
Manor custom in Strand, 196 
Manors, city, 164, 166, 316 
Manors, round London, 161- 163, 166 
Maps, explanatory note, 409-411 
Marriage dower at church door, 158 
Marriage, Roman law of, 27-30 
Mathew Paris, quoted, 246, 301, 302, 

303, 304, 368, 384 
Mathew of Westminster, quoted, 48 
Maximus (Emperor), 58 
Mayoralty, 260 
Maypole in Strand, 198 
Merchant law (Roman), 30, 33 



Methods of research, early period, I-Jri ; 

later period, 230-234 
Middlesex and London, 106, 203 
Middleton (Prof.), quoted, 16, 81 
Mile End, 104-106, 384 
Military position of London, 383, 384 
Mommsen(Dr), quoted, 21, 25, 45, 76, 

Monasteries in London, 318, 319 
Monmouth, Roman site at, 81-82, 400 
Montfichet Castle, 314 
Moorfields, 142 
Morgen Speech, Court of, at Ipswich, 


Names of London, 4, 207, 398, 399 
Nennius, quoted, 21, 53, 207-208 
Niebuhr (Ur), quoted, 29, 81, 119 
Norman London, 397, 401 ; action of, 
at the conquest, 235-243, 279 ; Bride- 
well, 294 ; charters absorb ancient 
rights, 8, 264, 276 ; common hall, 
312, 353 ; commune of London, 
261 ; Domesday, omission from, 
165 ; ecclesiastical life, 317 - 330 ; 
Edward I., charter of, 264 ; Edward 
II., charter of, 265-266 ; foreign mer- 
chants, 332-335 ; franchises, aggre- 
gation of, 309 ; fusion of Normans 
with Londoners, 284, 285 ; gilds, 
330-332; government of the city, 
314,316,335-355; Henry I., charter 
of, 254-257, 285 ; Henry II., charter 
of, 258; Henry III., charter of, 
263 ; Henry VI., charters of, 273 ; 
incorporation, charters of, 267-274 ; 
John, charter of, 259-260; Magna 
Carta, 367, 368 ; manors, 164, 166, 
316 ; mayoralty, 260 ; name 
Londonice, 4, 398 ; outlawry, 348- 
350; precincts, 312; Richard I., 
charter of, 259 ; Richard II., charters 
of, 271 ; sokes, 286, 314, 315 ; 
sovereign in relation to, 8, 240, 
253, 257, 279-308; taxation, 336; 
Tower of London, 243-249, 294 ; 
Tower Royal, 294 ; wards, 312, 313, 
351; William's charter, 251-254, 
Northampton, taxation of rents in, 337 
Norwich, 212 

Old Bailey, 88 

Old Ford, 98 

Old Kent Road, 163 

Ordish (Mr Fairman), quoted, 95, 319 

Outlawry, 42-43. 348-35° 

Pagan ritual and belief, 67, 72, 109- 

Palgrave (Sir F.), quoted, 59, 60, 62, 

63, 67, 144, 159, 214 
Paris, 71 
Park Lane, 163 

Parliament, London not the seat of, 9 
Parliamentary representation of 

boroughs, 385-388 
Paulsbury, 315 

Pearson (Mr), quoted, 18, 21, 22, 47 
Pile dwellings, 72 
Pillory, 158, 339 
Pollock and Maitland, Hist. Eng. 

Law, quoted, 30, 226, 308, 349, 353, 

Pollock (Sir F.), quoted, 32 
Pomcerium, 84-86, 93 
Porchester, 208, 211 
Prayer for landlords, 371 
Precincts, 312 
Preston, 144 
Primitive institutions, relative position 

of,. 4, 5 
Provinces of Roman Britain, 21-23 
Putney, 162 

Ralph de Diceto, quoted, 168, 182, 

Reader (Mr), quoted, 72, 80 

Rhyming charters, 250 

Rhys (Prof.), quoted, 22, 45, 51, 
55. 59, 60, 68, 73 

Richard of Devizes, quoted, 261 

Richard I., charter of, 259 

Richard II., charters of, 271 

Richard III., election of, 291 

Roadways, Roman, 18, 23, 32, 73-75 

Rochester, 96, 185-187 

Roger of Hoveden, quoted, 261 

Roger of Wendover, quoted, 168, 182 

Roman origins, 5, 36 ; Alectus in 
London, 48; Britain, 22, 23-27, 66; 
cities, 19-21, 23, 24, 34-36, 49, 51, 
52, 59; ceremonial, 52, 57, 58, 62, 
63; city-state, 12, 18; corpora- 
tion, 33; election of emperors in 
cities, 52, 55; jus commercii, 30-33; 
jus conubii, 27-30; London as a city 
of the empire, 7, 24, 57, 73-75 ; 
provinces, 19, 21-23 ; roadways, 18, 

23. 32, 73-75 
Roman survivals in London, 75-107, 
396, 402; amphitheatre, 94-95; 
army, 97, 134; boundaries of early 
site, 81 -82; burial area, 78; com- 
mercial importance, 76; council, 



Roman survivals (continued) — 

146; earliest site, 75-87; eastern 
boundary of early site, 79; forum, 
93; gates of the early city, 80; 
judicia civitatis Lundonice, 121-134; 
jurisperiti, 118; jus commercii, 32 ; 
land laws, 137-140; law, Roman, 
and Anglo-Saxon custom, 135-160 ; 
liberties, 92 ; London Stone, S^t 86; 
merchant law, 118-121; Mile End, 
104-106; name Lundinium, 4; 
non-burial area, 78, 79; northern 
boundary of early site, 79 ; paganism, 
in -113; Pomoerium, 84-86, 93; 
sheriffs' posts, 154-155 ; streets, 83, 
94; temple, 93; territorium, 96-104, 
106 ; wall, 86, 87-91 ; ward boun- 
daries, 81-82, 89-91 ; Watling Street, 
79 ; western boundary of early site, 
79, 84-86 

Rome, 15-17, 81 

Round (Mr), quoted, 4, 106, 165, 212, 
216, 244, 254, 259, 260 

Russian institutions, 5 

Sacred character of early site of city, 

St Alban's, 100, 212 
St Clement Danes, 181, 184 
St Dunstan's Hill, 79 
St Katharine Cree, 99 
St Martin Pomroy, 84-85 
St Mary-le-Bow, 99 
St Mary Staining, 99 
St Paul's, 93, 112-113, 120-121, 321, 

Sanctuary, right of, 323-330 
Savigny (Dr), quoted, 28 
Schools of Roman Britain, 25 
Seebohm (Mr F.), quoted, 42, 133, 161, 

163, 211 
Sergeants at law, ceremonial, 119-121 
Sheriffs' posts, 154-155 
Silchester, 55, 94, 100, 208, 209, 402 
Sister's son, 282 
Skene (Dr), quoted, 40, 42, 53 
Sohm (Dr), quoted, 28 
Sokes, 286, 314, 315 
Sovereign, relation to London, 8, 240, 

253, 257, 279-308 
Spitalfields, 93 

Stag offering at St Paul's, 1 12 
Staines, 99, 100 
Staining Lane, 99 
State, misuse of the term, 23, 69 
and municipality, relationship of, 

1, 7, 8, 233, 355-368 

State law, 358-368 

institutions, relative position of, 5 

Statius, quoted, 26 

Stephen, King, election of, 281-290 
Stow's Survey, quoted, 93, 112, 141, 

142, 145, 157, 195, 197, 294, 295, 

315, 317, 322, 332 
Stubbs (Bishop), quoted, 32, 165, 170, 

262, 309, 310, 386, 387, 388 
Strand, 196-198 
Sword carried point upwards, 153-154 

Tacitus, quoted, 76, 282 

Taxation by city of London, 255, 256, 


of Roman Britain, 25 

Taylor (Isaac), quoted, 4 
Temple Bar ceremony, 296 

Terms, historical, proper use of, 36, 
69, 404 

Territorium jzi London, 96-104, 106, 

Thames, jurisdiction over, 345-346 

Theft, law of, 122-128 

Titles of sovereignty, 60-63 

Tolsey Court of Bristol, 222, 367 

Tothill, 1 7 1- 1 72, 195 

Tower (the), 89, 243-249 294 

Tower Hill, 88 

Tower, Royal, 294 

Trade quarters, 332 

Tribal constitution (Anglo-Saxon), 5, 
22, 29, 46, 65, 167-169, 323, 398 

(Celtic), 5, 22, 27, 29, 65 ; 

age of entry into tribal rights, 40 ; 
assembly of the tribe, 41 ; cattle the 
economic basis, 39 ; corporate group, 
39 ; family within the tribe, 40 ; 
geilfine system, 40 ; Irish tribe, 37 ; 
jus conubii, 43 ; king, tribal, 39 ; 
kinship basis, 38, 41, 43; non-de- 
velopment of, 44, 45 ; non-tribesmen, 
39, 42 ; outlawry, 42 ; rights of tribes- 
men, 40 ; territory, 44 ; wergild, 42 

Tribal survivals (Anglo-Saxon) 45, 46, 
169, 397 

(Celtic), 45 

Trinoda necessitas, 32 

Tudor London, 369-382, 396 

Unanimous vote, 41 
Usury law, taken from London law, 

Verulam, 212 

Village tenement, 143-145 




Walbrook, 79 

Walter of Coventry, quoted, 261 

Warwick Lane, 88 

Wards, 81-82, 89-91, 312, 313, 351 

Watling Street, 79 

Wergild, custom of, 42 

Westminster, 9, 67, 163, 170- 181, 191, 

William of Malmesbury, quoted, 1 14, 

115, 182, 222, 287, 288-290 

William I., charter 0^-251-254, 256 
Willis-Bund (Mr), quoted, no, III 
Winchester, 71, 214, 223, 400 
Worcester, 214, 222 
Wroxeter, 208, 210 

York, 36, 71, 139, 203, 214, 220, 


JS Gomme, (Sir) George Laurence 

35^2 The governance of London